Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Bioactive compound from the Rhodiola plant improves memory

25.10.2018

New approach to the treatment of age-related memory loss discovered

In an ageing society more and more people suffer from memory disorders. The progressive loss of memory severely impairs the quality of life of those affected. So far, no drugs are known to prevent age-related cognitive decline.


Rhodiola rosea is a traditional medicinal plant for improving brain function. The researchers discovered the substance FAE-20 to have a memory-enhancing effect. A new approach for dementia research?

Pixabay

For the first time, a study conducted by scientists from the Leibniz Institutes for Neurobiology (LIN) and for Plant Biochemistry (IPB) and published in the journal Science Advances now proves the memory-enhancing effect of a plant ester as an active ingredient from the medicinal plant Rhodiola rosea.

In order to prevent age-related memory loss, there are so far – apart from physical exercise – no effective strategies. In traditional medicine, plant preparations are widely used to enhance memory performance. However, due to fluctuating drug concentrations, these can be inactive or lead to incorrect dosages – especially if the drug is not known at all. In such cases, neither the effects nor the side effects are predictable for the patient or the doctor.

Rhodiola rosea, the rosewort plant, has been known for a long time to exert a beneficial effect on mental performance. But as the first author of the study, Dr. Birgit Michels from the LIN, explains: "In order to make this knowledge useful for medicine, we wanted to find out which specific substances from Rhodiola improve memory. After all, without an identified active ingredient no targeted dosage and plant breeding, no quality control and therefore no drug development are possible."

Extensive biotests at the LIN in Magdeburg, initially on fly larvae, were combined with phytochemical analyses by scientists at the IPB in Halle. This made it possible to isolate the substance ferulic acid eicosyl ester (FAE-20), which promotes memory performance, and to unambiguously determine its memory-enhancing effect.

"Although it is a chemically simple molecule, identifying it as an effective component of the plant extract was not trivial. It is more complicated to relate cognitive performance, such as the ability to learn, to the hundreds of natural substances in the plant than it is, for example, to search for new antibiotics," explains Prof. Dr. Ludger Wessjohann from the IPB. Importantly, the pure substance synthesized in his laboratory also provided clear proof of the effect of FAE-20.

"Next, we were interested in finding out whether it was possible to improve the memory of ageing flies," says Prof. Dr. Bertram Gerber from the LIN. The researchers from Magdeburg were able to show that the addition of FAE-20 to fly food improved the memory of aged fruit flies by a third compared to their non-treated counterparts.

These learning experiments were based on so-called classical conditioning. This means that the animals learn to associate a scent with a reward, for example sugar. In a subsequent test, it is then possible to see whether they have remembered this association and now find the scent more attractive than before.

The scientists were also able to show that FAE-20 prevents the age-related excessive accumulation of proteins at synapses, the connections among nerve cells in the brain of the fly. As Michels explains: "In flies, ‘old’ means only about 14 days. Therefore, it was particularly encouraging for us, together with colleagues from the Otto-von-Guericke University in Magdeburg and the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, also to be able to confirm the positive effects on memory performance in mice even over 2 years old."

Based on the positive effect of the Rhodiola plant in humans, the researchers were able to identify FAE-20 as a concrete natural substance that improves memory performance in old age – at least in animal models. They now hope that the circle can be closed and that their discovery can be used for medical dementia research: "We are quite optimistic about this. After all, the plant is already being used by humans. Our results with FAE-20 in animals are therefore likely to be transferable back to humans," says Gerber. A patent application for the newly found application of FAE-20 has already been filed.

Wissenschaftliche Ansprechpartner:

Prof. Dr. Bertram Gerber, bertram.gerber@lin-magdeburg.de

Originalpublikation:

http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/4/10/eaat6994

Sophie Ehrenberg | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.lin-magdeburg.de/

Further reports about: IPB Neurobiologie Rhodiola rosea age-related cognitive memory performance

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht TU Bergakademie Freiberg researches virus inhibitors from the sea
27.03.2020 | Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg

nachricht The Venus flytrap effect: new study shows progress in immune proteins research
27.03.2020 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Junior scientists at the University of Rostock invent a funnel for light

Together with their colleagues from the University of Würzburg, physicists from the group of Professor Alexander Szameit at the University of Rostock have devised a “funnel” for photons. Their discovery was recently published in the renowned journal Science and holds great promise for novel ultra-sensitive detectors as well as innovative applications in telecommunications and information processing.

The quantum-optical properties of light and its interaction with matter has fascinated the Rostock professor Alexander Szameit since College.

Im Focus: Stem Cells and Nerves Interact in Tissue Regeneration and Cancer Progression

Researchers at the University of Zurich show that different stem cell populations are innervated in distinct ways. Innervation may therefore be crucial for proper tissue regeneration. They also demonstrate that cancer stem cells likewise establish contacts with nerves. Targeting tumour innervation could thus lead to new cancer therapies.

Stem cells can generate a variety of specific tissues and are increasingly used for clinical applications such as the replacement of bone or cartilage....

Im Focus: Artificial solid fog material creates pleasant laser light

An international research team led by Kiel University develops an extremely porous material made of "white graphene" for new laser light applications

With a porosity of 99.99 %, it consists practically only of air, making it one of the lightest materials in the world: Aerobornitride is the name of the...

Im Focus: Cross-technology communication in the Internet of Things significantly simplified

Researchers at Graz University of Technology have developed a framework by which wireless devices with different radio technologies will be able to communicate directly with each other.

Whether networked vehicles that warn of traffic jams in real time, household appliances that can be operated remotely, "wearables" that monitor physical...

Im Focus: Peppered with gold

Research team presents novel transmitter for terahertz waves

Terahertz waves are becoming ever more important in science and technology. They enable us to unravel the properties of future materials, test the quality of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“4th Hybrid Materials and Structures 2020” takes place over the internet

26.03.2020 | Event News

Most significant international Learning Analytics conference will take place – fully online

23.03.2020 | Event News

MOC2020: Fraunhofer IOF organises international micro-optics conference in Jena

03.03.2020 | Event News

 
Latest News

3D printer sensors could make breath tests for diabetes possible

27.03.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering

TU Bergakademie Freiberg researches virus inhibitors from the sea

27.03.2020 | Life Sciences

The Venus flytrap effect: new study shows progress in immune proteins research

27.03.2020 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>