Substance present in ayahuasca brew stimulates generation of human neural cells
Brazilian study suggests that harmine increases the number of neural progenitors, cells that give rise to neurons -
Ayahuasca is a powerful herbal beverage that has been used for centuries by Native South-Americans. Studies suggest that it exhibits anxiolytic and antidepressant effects in humans. One of the main substances present in the beverage is harmine, a beta-carboline which potential therapeutic effects for depression has been recently described in mice.
"It has been shown in rodents that antidepressant medication acts by inducing neurogenesis. So we decided to test if harmine, an alkaloid with the highest concentration in the psychotropic plant decoction ayahuasca, would trigger neurogenesis in human neural cells", said Vanja Dakic, PhD student and one of the authors in the study.
In order to elucidate these effects, researchers from the D'Or Institute for Research and Education and the Institute of Biomedical Sciences at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro exposed human neural progenitors to this beta-carboline. After four days, harmine led to a 70% increase in proliferation of human neural progenitor cells.
Researchers were also able to identify how the human neural cells respond to harmine. The described effect involves the inhibition of DYRK1A, which is located on chromosome 21 and is over activated in patients with Down syndrome and Alzheimer's Disease.
"Our results demonstrate that harmine is able to generate new human neural cells, similarly to the effects of classical antidepressant drugs, which frequently are followed by diverse side effects. Moreover, the observation that harmine inhibits DYRK1A in neural cells allows us to speculate about future studies to test its potential therapeutic role over cognitive deficits observed in Down syndrome and neurodegenerative diseases", suggests researcher Stevens Rehen.
Note: Material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.
Dakic V et al. Harmine stimulates proliferation of human neural progenitors. PeerJ, Published December 6 2016. doi: 10.7717/peerj.2727
New Imaging Approach Maps Alzheimer's Pathology in the Whole Brain of MiceNews
A new imaging system could help speed new drug development by offering a better way to monitor the brain changes indicative of Alzheimer’s in mouse models of the disease.READ MORE
Brain Training Improves Cognition in Bipolar PatientsNews
Researchers at Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital have discovered that a unique kind of brain training can result in large and persistent improvements in cognition in people with bipolar disorder.READ MORE
Physical Manifestations of Stress: Changes in your gut floraNews
A new study finds that stress may be just as harmful to our bodies as a really bad diet.READ MORE