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Sci Rep. 2017 Jul 13;7(1):5309. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-05407-9.

The alkaloids of Banisteriopsis caapi, the plant source of the Amazonian hallucinogen Ayahuasca, stimulate adult neurogenesis in vitro.

Author information

1
Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas (CSIC-UAM), Arturo Duperier 4, 28029, Madrid, Spain.
2
Center for Networked Biomedical Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases (CIBERNED), 28031, Madrid, Spain.
3
Departamento de Biología Celular, Facultad de Medicina, UCM, Plaza Ramón y Cajal s/n, 28040, Madrid, Spain.
4
Human Neuropsychopharmacology Research Group. Sant Pau Institute of Biomedical Research (IIB-Sant Pau). Sant Antoni María Claret, 167. 08025, Barcelona, Spain.
5
Instituto de Química Médica (IQM-CSIC), Juan de la Cierva 3, 28006, Madrid, Spain.
6
MFR currently at: Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond, VA, 23298, USA.
7
The Beckley Foundation, Beckley Park, Oxford, OX3 9SY, United Kingdom.
8
Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas (CSIC-UAM), Arturo Duperier 4, 28029, Madrid, Spain. aperez@iib.uam.es.
9
Center for Networked Biomedical Research on Neurodegenerative Diseases (CIBERNED), 28031, Madrid, Spain. aperez@iib.uam.es.
10
Human Neuropsychopharmacology Research Group. Sant Pau Institute of Biomedical Research (IIB-Sant Pau). Sant Antoni María Claret, 167. 08025, Barcelona, Spain. jriba@santpau.cat.
11
Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental, CIBERSAM, Planta, 028029, Madrid, Spain. jriba@santpau.cat.

Abstract

Banisteriopsis caapi is the basic ingredient of ayahuasca, a psychotropic plant tea used in the Amazon for ritual and medicinal purposes, and by interested individuals worldwide. Animal studies and recent clinical research suggests that B. caapi preparations show antidepressant activity, a therapeutic effect that has been linked to hippocampal neurogenesis. Here we report that harmine, tetrahydroharmine and harmaline, the three main alkaloids present in B. caapi, and the harmine metabolite harmol, stimulate adult neurogenesis in vitro. In neurospheres prepared from progenitor cells obtained from the subventricular and the subgranular zones of adult mice brains, all compounds stimulated neural stem cell proliferation, migration, and differentiation into adult neurons. These findings suggest that modulation of brain plasticity could be a major contribution to the antidepressant effects of ayahuasca. They also expand the potential application of B. caapi alkaloids to other brain disorders that may benefit from stimulation of endogenous neural precursor niches.

PMID:
28706205
PMCID:
PMC5509699
DOI:
10.1038/s41598-017-05407-9
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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