Reprinted with the kind permission of Life Extension.
December 14 2015. On December 10, 2015 the journal Advances in Regenerative Biology published the discovery of Brazilian researchers of an ability of the flavonoid apigenin, which occurs in parsley, red pepper and other plant foods, to improve neuron formation and connectivity. The study is the first to demonstrate the effect apigenin directly in human cells as well as to provide an explanation for its effects.
Stevens K. Rehens and colleagues evaluated the effects of apigenin in human stem cells. They observed an increase in the number of neural progenitor cells and synapses (which enable the transmission of impulses between brain cells) in treated versus untreated cells. “Strong connections between neurons are crucial for good brain function, memory consolidation and learning”, noted Dr Rehen, who is a neuroscientist at the D’Or Institute for Research and Education (IDOR) and Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
The team found that estrogen receptor antagonists 1 and 2 suppressed apigenin’s effects, leading to the conclusion that apigenin acts through estrogen receptor signaling. While estrogen has been associated with a protective effect against disorders of the brain, including Alzheimer’s disease, estrogen therapies have been associated with risks among some individuals—a fact that renders the development of alternative therapies of vital interest.
“We show a new path for new studies with this substance,” Dr Rehen remarked. “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.”