Memory and nerve growth can be improved by a particular edible mushroom, scientists have found.
Extracts from the lion's mane mushroom (Hericium erinaceus) had been used in medicine in Asian countries for centuries, and pre-clinical tests found they had an impact on brain cell growth and improving memory. But a Queensland Brain Institute team at University of Queensland wanted to test exactly how.
Professor Frederic Meunier said laboratory tests measured the neurotrophic effects of the mushroom's compounds on cultured brain cells and found they helped promote euron projections, extending and connecting to other neurons.
"Using super-resolution microscopy, we found the mushroom extract and its active components largely increase the size of growth cones, which are particularly important for brain cells to sense their environment and establish new connections with other neurons in the brain."
Study co-author Dr Ramon Martinez-Marmol said the discovery had applications that could treat and protect against neurodegenerative cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's disease.
"Our idea was to identify bioactive compounds from natural sources that could reach the brain and regulate the growth of neurons, resulting in improved memory formation," he said.
CNGBio Co has supported and collaborated on the research project, as have researchers from Republic of Korea's Gachon University and Chungbuk National University.
The study was published in the Journal of Neurochemistry.
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