A new study, published in the Advances in Regenerative Biology, has demonstrated that apigenin, (found in parsley, thyme, chamomile and red pepper), improves neuron formation and strengthens the connections between brain cells.
“Strong connections between neurons are crucial for good brain function, memory consolidation and learning,” said neuroscientist from IDOR and UFRJ Stevens Rehen, leader author of the paper published in Advances in Regenerative Biology.
The study consisted of applying apigenin to human stem cells in a dish where they become neurons after 25 days. The formed neurons were made stronger after being treated with this compound and demonstrated that apigenin works by binding to estrogen receptors, which affect the development, maturation, function, and plasticity of the nervous system.
“We show a new path for new studies with this substance,” said Rehen. “Moreover, flavonoids are present at high amounts in some foods and we can speculate that a diet rich in flavonoids may influence the formation of neurons and the way they communicate within the brain.”
Previous studies had revealed that substances from the same chemical group as apigenin, (flavonoids) positively affect memory and learning.
Researchers specify that apigenin may be used as an alternative approach on future treatments for neurodegenerative diseases as well as in neuronal differentiation strategies in laboratory, delaying the onset of psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Cleide S. Souza, Bruna S. Paulsen, Sylvie Devalle, Silvia Lima Costa, Helena L. Borges, Stevens K. Rehen. Commitment of human pluripotent stem cells to a neural lineage is induced by the pro-estrogenic flavonoid apigenin. Advances in Regenerative Biology, 2015; 2 (0) DOI: 10.3402/arb.v2.29244