Active compound from edible mushrooms boosts nerve growth and enhances memory

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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.

Researchers have discovered lion's mane mushrooms improve brain cell growth and memory in pre-clinical trials. Image UQ.

"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."

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 Ramon Martinez-Marmol, UQ

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 unraveling 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.

Journal reference:

Martínez-Mármol, R., et al. (2023) Hericerin derivatives activates a pan-neurotrophic pathway in central hippocampal neurons converging to ERK1/2 signaling enhancing spatial memory. Journal of Neurochemistry.


  1. Jason McGregor Jason McGregor United States says:

    Can you still get the necessary compounds once dehydrated and powdered? How about cooked and eaten? Thank you.

  2. Claudia Kelly Claudia Kelly United States says:

    Currently brain injury survivors have no real treatment. I would love to see this new compounded tested to determine if it can speed recovery.

  3. Dale Ford Dale Ford United States says:

    Mushrooms are our missing link. Particularly magic ones. The world that gave us reason is still a mystery.

  4. Lynn Nielsen Lynn Nielsen United States says:

    This study was done on cells grown on a plate.  0.04% of this type of study become useful humans drugs.  This is interesting, but does not mean anything about taking mushrooms.  
    Take mushrooms, don't take mushrooms - but not for memory.

  5. B Miller B Miller United States says:

    Does this include peripheral nerve growth?

    So would this include peripheral nerve damage in areas like the hands /arms & feet / legs?

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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