Apple peel and flesh contain pro-neurogenic compounds


  • M. Ichwan
  • T.L. Walker
  • Z. Nicola
  • J. Ludwig-Müller
  • C. Böttcher
  • R.W. Overall
  • V.S. Adusumilli
  • M. Bulut
  • A.M. Sykes
  • N. Hübner
  • G. Ramirez-Rodriguez
  • L. Ortiz-López
  • E.A. Lugo-Hernández
  • G. Kempermann


  • Stem Cell Reports


  • Stem Cell Rep 16 (3): 548-565


  • As mammals evolved with exposure to particular diets, naturally abundant compounds may have become part of the set of environmental co-determinants that shaped brain structure and function. Here we investigated whether bioactive factors found in apples directly affect hippocampal neurogenesis in the adult mouse. We found that quercetin, the most abundant flavanol in apple peel, was anti-proliferative at high concentrations but pro-neurogenic at low concentrations. This was confirmed in vivo, with intraperitoneally delivered quercetin promoting survival and neuronal differentiation, without affecting proliferation. Using a bioassay-guided fractionation approach we also identified additional pro-neurogenic compounds in apple flesh that were not related to flavonoids. We found that 3,5-dihydroxybenzoic acid significantly increased neural precursor cell proliferation and neurogenesis. This work shows that both flavonoids and 3,5-dihydroxybenzoic acid are pro-neurogenic, not only by activating precursor cell proliferation but also by promoting cell-cycle exit, cellular survival, and neuronal differentiation.