Mushrooms Magnify Memory by Boosting Nerve Growth

Summary: Active compounds in the edible Lion’s Mane mushroom can help promote neurogenesis and enhance memory, a new study reports. Preclinical trials report the compound had a significant impact on neural growth and improved memory formation. Researchers say the compound could have clinical applications in treating and preventing neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Source: University of Queensland

Researchers from The University of Queensland have discovered the active compound from an edible mushroom that boosts nerve growth and enhances memory.

Professor Frederic Meunier from the Queensland Brain Institute said the team had identified new active compounds from the mushroom, Hericium erinaceus.

“Extracts from these so-called ‘lion’s mane’ mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine in Asian countries for centuries, but we wanted to scientifically determine their potential effect on brain cells,” Professor Meunier said.

“Pre-clinical testing found the lion’s mane mushroom had a significant impact on the growth of brain cells and improving memory.

“Laboratory tests measured the neurotrophic effects of compounds isolated from Hericium erinaceus on cultured brain cells, and surprisingly we found that the active compounds promote neuron 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.”

This shows the lion mane mushrooms
Researchers found lion’s mane mushroom improved brain cell growth and memory in pre-clinical trials. Credit: University of Queensland

Co-author, UQ’s 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,” Dr Martinez-Marmol said.

Dr Dae Hee Lee from CNGBio Co, which has supported and collaborated on the research project, said the properties of lion’s mane mushrooms had been used to treat ailments and maintain health in traditional Chinese medicine since antiquity.

“This important research is unravelling the molecular mechanism of lion’s mane mushroom compounds and their effects on brain function, particularly memory,” Dr Lee said.

The study was published in the Journal of Neurochemistry.

UQ acknowledges the collaborative efforts of researchers from the Republic of Korea’s Gachon University and Chungbuk National University.

About this neurogenesis and memory research news

Author: Elaine Pye
Source: University of Queensland
Contact: Elaine Pye – University of Queensland
Image: The image is in the public domain

Original Research: Open access.
Hericerin derivatives activates a pan-neurotrophic pathway in central hippocampal neurons converging to ERK1/2 signaling enhancing spatial memory” by Frederic Meunier et al. Journal of Neurochemistry


Hericerin derivatives activates a pan-neurotrophic pathway in central hippocampal neurons converging to ERK1/2 signaling enhancing spatial memory

The traditional medicinal mushroom Hericium erinaceus is known for enhancing peripheral nerve regeneration through targeting nerve growth factor (NGF) neurotrophic activity.

Here, we purified and identified biologically new active compounds from H. erinaceus, based on their ability to promote neurite outgrowth in hippocampal neurons. N-de phenylethyl isohericerin (NDPIH), an isoindoline compound from this mushroom, together with its hydrophobic derivative hericene A, were highly potent in promoting extensive axon outgrowth and neurite branching in cultured hippocampal neurons even in the absence of serum, demonstrating potent neurotrophic activity.

Pharmacological inhibition of tropomyosin receptor kinase B (TrkB) by ANA-12 only partly prevented the NDPIH-induced neurotrophic activity, suggesting a potential link with BDNF signaling. However, we found that NDPIH activated ERK1/2 signaling in the absence of TrkB in HEK-293T cells, an effect that was not sensitive to ANA-12 in the presence of TrkB.

Our results demonstrate that NDPIH acts via a complementary neurotrophic pathway independent of TrkB with converging downstream ERK1/2 activation. Mice fed with H. erinaceus crude extract and hericene A also exhibited increased neurotrophin expression and downstream signaling, resulting in significantly enhanced hippocampal memory.

Hericene A therefore acts through a novel pan-neurotrophic signaling pathway, leading to improved cognitive performance.

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  1. I wonder if using the term neurogenesis in this context is misleading. This supplement would seem to stimulate connectivity between existing neurons; not to create new ones. Be that as it may, enhanced connectivity can be beneficial. The danger, of course, is increased stimulation can negatively impact established pathways and over-stimulation can actually disrupt them to the point of neurosis.

  2. A study sponsored by a company that sells the product being tested is bad enough, but the study is admittedly “sub-clinical” – there is no testing nor proof mentioned that the compounds/chemicals producing these study results would have any effect on human brains following digestion, either as fresh produce or as a powder or pills. By extension, there’s no indication how much of these chemicals would have to be consumed to have a similar positive effect, and what the possible negative effects of that level of consumption might be. And do the same chemicals also promote accelerated growth of tumor cells? The headline here and in multiple sites picking up this story is misleading at best, but will generate revenue for the sponsoring company as well as the ad revenue for the clickbait. If there is a website that lists these studies and has a yes/no column indicating financial interest/sponsorship, I’d appreciate someone posting the link.

    1. There are other studies that say the same things. Perhaps you could read some before telling people it’s bunk when you clearly don’t know anything at all about the muschrooms.

  3. I have tried dozens of supplements to help me continue to play bullet chess online (each side has 1 minute total for all their moves), even though I am too old for it (54). Lion’s Mane is one of my keepers. I have been taking it for about 2 years. I was never stronger before the last 2 years. And I have been very active playing bullet chess for around 16 years (well over 200,000 games).
    Lion’s Mane Mushroom extract, Salmon oil, Nicotinamide Riboside, PQQ, Lecithin, B-2, L-Carnosine, Choline Bitartrate, and DMAE appear to be effective for me. And raspberry Ice Tea or Hibiscus Tea.

    1. So Noodle … are you going to share a Brand Name and where we might find it available?

      That’s a lot of information with no payoff so far.

  4. Please construct this eb page so that I can forward it to my wife ‘ just love mushrooms!

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