Neurotrophic effect of naturally occurring long-chain fatty alcohols on cultured CNS neurons

FEBS Lett. 1987 Mar 23;213(2):406-10. doi: 10.1016/0014-5793(87)81531-4.


A long-chain fatty alcohol,n-hexacosanol, that we have isolated from the Far-Eastern traditional medicinal plant, Hygrophila erecta, Hochr., is shown to promote the maturation of central neurons. Added at 500 nM to fetal rat brain neurons in culture, it increased both neurite outgrowth by a factor of 4-6 and the number of collaterals, especially in multipolar neurons. The biochemical differentiation of cultured neurons was also strikingly enhanced by this compound: it increased the protein content and almost doubled the activities of two neuron-specific enzymes, phosphate-activated glutaminase and neuron-specific enolase, by 92 and 78%, respectively. Extensive studies with several synthetic long-chain fatty alcohols showed that the neurotrophic activity was maximal for n-hexacosanol. It is suggested that some long-chain fatty alcohols with an appropriate length of hydrocarbon chain might play an important role in central neuron development.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Brain / cytology
  • Brain / embryology*
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Fatty Alcohols / pharmacology*
  • Glutaminase / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase / metabolism
  • Plants, Medicinal / analysis
  • Rats


  • Fatty Alcohols
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Glutaminase
  • Phosphopyruvate Hydratase
  • 1-hexacosanol