Hindawi Publishing Corporation
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2011, Article ID 738131, 8pages
Mumijo Traditional Medicine: Fossil Deposits from
Antarctica (Chemical Composition and Beneﬁcial Bioactivity)
Anna Aiello,1Ernesto Fattorusso,1Marialuisa Menna,1Rocco Vitalone,1Heinz C. Schr ¨
1Dipartimento di Chimica delle Sostanze Naturali, Universit`a di Napoli “Federico II”, via D. Montesano 49, 80131 Napoli, Italy
2Abte ilun g f ¨ur Angewandte Molekularbiologie, Institut f¨ur Physiologische Chemie, Johannes Gutenberg-Universit¨at Mainz,
Duesbergweg 6, 55099 Mainz, Germany
Correspondence should be addressed to Werner E. G. M¨
Received 8 July 2008; Accepted 10 October 2008
Copyright © 2011 Anna Aiello et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License,
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Mumijo is a widely used traditional medicine, especially in Russia, Altai Mountains, Mongolia, Iran Kasachstan and in Kirgistan.
Mumijo preparations have been successfully used for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases; they display immune-
stimulating and antiallergic activity as well. In the present study, we investigate the chemical composition and the biomedical
potential of a Mumijo(-related) product collected from the Antarctica. The yellow material originates from the snow petrels,
Pago droma nivea. Extensive puriﬁcation and chemical analysis revealed that the fossil samples are a mixture of glycerol derivatives.
In vitro experiments showed that the Mumijo extract caused in cortical neurons a strong neuroprotective eﬀect against the
apoptosis-inducing amyloid peptide fragment β-fragment 25–35 (Aβ25–35). In addition, the fraction rich in glycerol ethers/wax
esters displayed a signiﬁcant growth-promoting activity in permanent neuronal PC12 cells. It is concluded that this new Mumijo
preparation has distinct and marked neuroprotective activity, very likely due to the content of glycerol ether derivatives.
“Reports on the high biodiversity of marine animals date
back to Aristotle (384–322 BC) , who gave—in his 5th
book on the History of Animals—extensive descriptions on
those sponge species near the island of Lesbos that have
been commercially used later (reviewed in )”. Likewise,
since Aristotle  the tar-like substance, of white over
yellow to black color, which is used in traditional medicine,
has been termed collectively Mumijo, Mumie or Mumiyo
. Pfolsprundt  also mentioned the alleviating remedy
in his compendium. This traditional drug is widely dis-
tributed in Russia (termed there Mumie or Mumiyo), India
(Saljit), Birma [Kao-tun (blood of the mountain)], Altai
Mountains [Barachgschin (oil of the mountain)], Mongolia
[Brogschaun (mountain juice)] and Iran Kasachstan, and
Usbekistan as well as in Kirgistan [Arakul dshibal (mountain
sweat)] . The origin of the word “Mumijo” goes back
to the Greek and means “saving the body”. The Asian
Mumijo is found at high altitudes as deposits in walls and
caves where they are embedded into rocks. These organic
accumulations of unknown origin may reach weights of up
to 500 kg; some are considered to be up to 3000-years old
[3,5,6]. The chemical composition of Asian Mumijo of
∼20% of minerals, 15% of proteins, 5% of lipids and 5%
of steroids has been described in detail ; the rest are
carbohydrates, alkaloids and amino acids. A series of medical
applications has been described (reviewed in ), including
immune-stimulating and antiallergic activity as well as an
ameliorating eﬀect against gastric and intestinal ulcers and
ﬁnally healing of bone fractures. Furthermore, a protective
eﬀect against radiation and a favorable nootropic property
 have been described.
The term Mumijo is not only restricted to the black,
tar-like substance from Asia , but it is also used for
the paleoenvironmental records—subfossil stomach oil
deposits from Antarctica . This material is yellow and
originates from the snow petrels, Pagodroma nivea.The
cross composition of this waxy organic material, found in
petrel-breeding colonies, had been determined by Warham
et al. . These authors reported that the stomach oil of
the Petrels consists primarily of triglycerides from which
2 Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
the birds obtain their energy through their intermediary
metabolism. The fatty acid “oil” composition was published
earlier by Lewis , while a more detailed analysis was
given by Place et al.  who reported that the stomach
oil of the Leach’s Storm-Petrel, Oceanodroma leucorhoa,is
composed to >90% of neutral lipids (e.g., triglycerides, wax
esters and glycerol ethers). As expected, the composition
of these organic ingredients is dynamic. The amount of
deposition of the oil is depends on the environmental living
conditions of the birds; Warham  underscored also the
ecological importance of the stomach oil for the seasonal
requirements of the animals. However, a state-of-the-art
analysis especially of the fossil deposits is missing. The
material, investigated in the present contribution was
collected during the “GeoMaud”—Geoscientiﬁc Expedition
to Dronning Maud Land (Antarctica) (http://www.bgr.bund.
de/cln 011/nn 322990/DE/Themen/MeerPolar/Polarforsch-
ung/Projekte/Antarktis Projekte/GEOMAUD.html) during
expeditions between November 1, 1995 and August 25,
2005. The yellow stony Mumijo material was collected from
the Schirmacher Oasis (11◦35E, 70◦45S) as described
[13,14] and determined to be ∼3000-years old. One reason
for the intense study also of the antarctic Mumijo is its
value as palaeoclimate biomarker . Especially for the
Late Quaternary paleoenvironmental history, this material
is suitable to obtain further information about the climate
changes and the local ice retreats, moraines and Petrel
occupation history. The layers of fossil stomach oil can
become 50 cm thick and are deposited only on ice- and
snow-free locations. The deposits are indicative for the
breeding places of the Petrels and can hence give answers to
paleoclimate-related questions, for example, the retreat of
In the present study, we report about the chemical
composition of the fossil sample of Mumijo as well as about
its neuroprotective and cell growth stimulatory eﬀects. Our
results correlate this latter activity particularly to the presence
of α-glyceryl ethers in this material. However, it cannot be
ruled out that Mumijo causes, as a complex formulation, in
addition also an amelioration of a series of aﬄictions and
may act also as an antimicrobial, antiviral, antitumor, antial-
lergic, immunomodulating or anti-inﬂammatory medicine,
similar to the active compounds from mushrooms , or
of Propolis , or “Kampo” compounds aswellasof
Arabic medical herbs .
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Materials. Alzheimer-βfragment [Aβ25–35] (A 4559),
mide (thiazolyl blue; MTT; M 2128), as well as additional
chemical substances were obtained from Sigma (St Louis,
2.2. Instruments. Electrospray ionization (ESI) mass spectra
were obtained on an API 2000 mass spectrometer. Nuclear
magnetic resonance (NMR) experiments were performed on
a Varian Unity INOVA 500 spectrometer; chemical shifts
Figure 1: Mumijo samples. (a) Mumijo from Samarkand (Turk-
estan) (black). (b) Mumijo from Antarctica (yellow). In addition,
the extract used in traditional formulation as medicine in Russia
(in the background). (a) Mumijo Altai; (b) Mumijo Panacea.
refer to the residual solvent signal (CD3OD: δH=3.31, δC
=49.0; CDCl3:δH=7.26; δC=77.0). Medium-pressure
liquid chromatographic (MPLC) analyses were carried out
on a B¨
uchi 861 apparatus with SiO2(230–400 mesh)
packed columns. High-performance liquid chromatography
(HPLC) separations were achieved on a Knauer 501 appa-
ratus equipped with an RI detector. GC-MS spectra were
performed with a Hewlett- Packard 5890 gas chromatograph
equipped with a split/splitness injector and connected to a
Mass Selective Detector (MSD) HP 5970 MS using electron
impact ionization (EI) at a ionization energy of 70 eV. HPLC
was achieved with a Varian Prostar 210 apparatus equipped
with a Varian 350 refractive index detector or a Varian 325
2.3. Mumijo. The material was obtained from Dr Ulrich
Wand (Alfred-Wegener-Institut Bremerhaven) and collected
during the “GeoMaud”—Geoscientiﬁc Expedition to Dron-
ning Maud Land (Antarctica) (http://www.bgr.bund.de/cln
1, 1995 to August 25, 2005. The location had been the
Schirmacher Oasis (11◦35E; 70◦45S). The yellow stony
material from Antarctica (Figure 1(b)) is compared with the
brownish tar-like deposits, which had been obtained from
Samarkand (Turkestan) (Figure 1(a)).
2.4. Extraction and Isolation. AﬁrstMumijoextractwas
obtained by grinding the Antarctic material in a mortar and
suspending it in dimethyl sulfoxide. After shaking for 24 h at
4◦C the clear extract was obtained by centrifugation (5000 g;
10 min; 4◦C). The concentration cited under Results section
refers to the amount of solid Mumijo used for extraction.
For the chemical analysis, the fossil material (8.5g dry
weight after extraction) was homogenized and extracted ﬁrst
with methanol (3 ×300 ml) and then with chloroform (3 ×
200 ml). Combined extracts were concentrated in vacuo and
a crude extract (5.8 g) was obtained. This was subjected to
fractionation by silica gel MPLC to give six fractions, A to
F, using hexane, EtOAc and MeOH as a progressively polar
solvent system series. All fractions were subjected to a prelim-
inary spectroscopic inspection (1H NMR, ESIMS). Fractions
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 3
B to D were showed to be neutral lipid mixtures and were
subsequently separated and/or analyzed, as indicated.
Fraction B (4 g) contained wax esters, whose fatty acid
and alcohol compositions were determined by GC-MS in
their natural state. GC-MS analysis was performed on a fused
silica column (25 m ×0.20 mm HP-5; cross-linked 25% Ph
Me silicone; 0.33-mm ﬁlm thickness). The oven temperature
was programmed from 150◦C to 350◦Catarateof10
and held at the ﬁnal temperature for 10 min. Helium was
used as carrier gas at a constant ﬂow rate of 1.0 ml/min and a
gas inlet pressure of 13.3 psi. Quantitative determination was
based on the area of GLC peaks (Tabl e 1 ). Wax es t e r s (fraction
3): δ0.86 (t, J=6.6 Hz, 6H), 1.23 (broad
signal, alkyl chain protons), 1.52–1.58 (br., 4 H), 2.26 (t, J=
7.5 Hz, 2 H), 4.03 (t, J=6.7 Hz, 2 H) p.p.m.
Fraction C (1.1 g) was shown to be a mixture of fatty
acids. These had been methylated with diazomethane and the
resulting esters were analyzed by GC-MS analyses on a fused
silica column as above. The temperature of the column was
changed 5 min after injection from 150◦C to 300◦Cwitha
slope of 5◦C/min. The quantitative determination was based
on the area of GLC peaks and the results of the analysis
are summarized in Ta b le 2 .Fatty acid methyl esters (fraction
3): δ0.85 (t, J=6.6 Hz, 3 H), 1.23 (broad
signal, alkyl chain protons), 1.58 (m, 2 H), 2.30 (t, J=7.5 Hz,
2 H), 3.65 (s, 3 H) p.p.m.
Fraction D (0.4 g) was re-chromatographed on an RP-
18 column by MPLC (H2O→MeOH →CHCl3), thus
giving a monoglycerides fraction (160 mg, Fraction D/2)
eluted with H2O/MeOH 2:8, and a monoalkyl glycerol ethers
fraction (90 mg, Fraction D/3) eluted with 100% MeOH.
An aliquot each of fractions D/2 and D/3 (20 mg each) was
dissolved in pyridine (500 μl) and allowed to react with Ac2O
(200 μl) for 12 h. The reaction mixtures were concentrated
and the residues were puriﬁed by normal phase HPLC
(Luna Silica 5 μm, 250 ×4.60 mm, hexane/AcOEt 9:1 as the
eluent). Monoglyceride diacetates from fraction D/2:1HNMR
(CDCl3): δ0.86 (t, J=6.7 Hz, 3 H), 1.23 (broad signal, alkyl
chain protons), 2.04 (m, 4H), 2.06 (s, 3 H), 2.07 (s, 3 H),
2.30 (t, J=7.5 2 H), 4.11–4.16 (overlapped signals, 2 H),
4.25–4.31 (overlapped signals, 2H) 5.23 (m, 1 H), 5.33 (m,
2 H) p.p.m. ESI (positive ion mode): m/z: 407, 409, 435,
437, 463, 465, 491, 493, 521, 549 [M + Na]+series. The
quantitative estimation, reported in Tab l e 2,isbasedonthe
relative intensity of the peaks. Glyceryl ethers diacetates from
fraction D/3: 1HNMR(CDCl
3): δ=0.86 (t, J=6.6 Hz, 3 H),
1.23 (broad signal, alkyl chain protons), 1.54 (m, 2H), 2.04
(m, 4 H), 2.05 (s, 3 H), 2.07 (s, 3 H), 3.41 (m, 2H), 3.51 (d, J
=5.2, 2 H), 4.14 (dd, J=12.0, 6.4 Hz, 1 H) 4.31 (dd, J=12.0,
3.6 Hz, 1 H), 5.16 (m, 1 H), 5.33 (m, 2 H) p.p.m. ESI (positive
ion mode): m/z: 393, 395, 421, 423, 449, 451, 477, 479, 507,
535 [M + Na]+series.
2.5. Cell Culture: Cortical Cells. Primary cortical cells were
prepared according to a modiﬁed procedure [19,20]from
the brains of 19-day-old Wistar rat embryos by dissociation
(0.025% trypsin in Hanks’ balanced salt solution without
Ca2+ and Mg2+). The cell suspension was centrifuged
and the pellet was resuspended in Dulbecco’s modiﬁed
Eagle’s medium (4500 mg of glucose/l), supplemented with
100 mU/l insulin, 2 mM glutamate and 10% fetal calf
serum. After incubation for 48 h in poly-l-lysine-coated
plastic 96-well plates, the medium was supplemented with
10 μMuridine,10μM ﬂuorodeoxyuridine and 1 μMcytosine
arabinofuranoside (to eliminate proliferating non-neuronal
cells) for 3 days. The cultures contained >85% neurons;
the other cells were glial ﬁbrillary acidic protein-positive
[20,21]. Cells were routinely exposed to the Aβfragment
Aβ25–35 at a concentration of 1 μMfor5days.TheAβ25–35
was prepared in a stock solution of 900 μM in distilled water
and stored for 5 days at 4◦Cbeforeuse.Mumijoextractwas
added at the indicated concentrations 2h before incubation
of the cells with Aβ25–35.
2.6. Cell Culture: PC12. In parallel, the extracts were tested
in the permanent PC12 cell line that is derived from
pheochromocytoma of the rat adrenal medulla. The tumor
cells were grown as described earlier , but with the
modiﬁcation that RPMI-1640 medium, enriched with 10%
fetal calf serum, was used. All cells were kept in a humidiﬁed
atmosphere of 5% CO2and 95% air. Cells were seeded in
96-well plates at a density of 5 ×103cells per well with
or without the extracts. After 72 h, plates were analyzed
on a microplate reader and the ED50 concentrations were
2.7. Evaluation of Viable Cells. The viability of total cells was
determined with the MTT colorimetric assay system ,
followed by evaluation with an ELISA plate reader (Bio-
Rad model 3550, equipped with the program NCIMR IIIB).
Ten parallel assays were performed for each concentration of
the respective extracts. The results were analyzed by paired
Student’s t-test .
3.1. Chemical Analysis of Mumijo Extract. The wax esters
fraction was analyzed by GC-MS using EI, according to the
method proposed by Reiter et al. . This rapid method
allows to analyze the composition of a wax in its natural state
and to obtain a reliable and complete proﬁle of wax esters. EI
spectra of wax esters [R1COOR2] contain a single molecular
ion [M]+alongside a set of dominant ions [R1CO2H2]+
deriving from a double hydrogen rearrangement fragmen-
tation at the ester group. These ions show a diﬀerence of
28 amu and lead to the conclusion that the individual GC
peaks contain wax ester isomers with the same carbon num-
ber and same degree of unsaturation, but diﬀerent position
of the esters moiety within the wax ester due to diﬀerent
chain lengths of carbonyl- and ester components. In our
case, due to the relatively high abundance of [R1CO2H2]+
ions, the assignment of the individual was esters isomers was
possible, as shown in Tabl e 1 ; further evidence for our results
was provided by the presence of [R2-H]+ions and [R1CO]+
4 Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Tab le 1: Wax esters in fossil stomach oil—isomer composition, content and fragments.
Tot a l ca r bo n
atoms of wax
[M]+[R1CO2H2]+Intensity [R1CO2H2]+(%) [R1CO]+[R2−1]aAcid moiety Alcohol moiety
28 424 229 92.3 211 196 C14 C14
424 285 7.7 267 140 C18 C10
30 452 229 83.6 211 224 C14 C16
452 257 15.5 239 196 C16 C14
452 285 0.90 267 252 C18 C12
32 480 257 91.3 239 210 C16 C16
480 229 5.9 211 238 C14 C18
480 285 2.8 267 (182) C18 C14
34 508 285 55.8 267 224 C18 C16
508 257 44.2 239 (252) C16 C18
aFragments in brackets are not visible in the spectrum.
Tab le 2: Fatty acid composition of monoglycerides and free fatty
acids fraction, and fatty alcohol composition of monoalkyl glyceryl
MonoglyceridesaGlyceryl ethersaFree fatty acidsb
14 : 0 18.7 17.0 21.3
14 : 1 0.6 0.4 0.4
16 : 0 44.3 48.7 36.0
16 : 1 2.3 0.7 7.8
18 : 0 5.7 6.6 6.4
18 : 1 12.1 2.2 13.6
20 : 0 2.6 3.7 5.3
20 : 1 2.3 2.3 3.3
22 : 0 6.2 10.4 3.0
22 : 1 3.0 1.1 1.8
24 : 0 1.1 0.5 0.9
24 : 1 0.7 6.4 0.2
aQuantitative estimation (%) was based on the relative intensity of the peaks
in the ESI mass spectrum.
bQuantitative determination (%) was based on the area of GLC peaks.
Fractions D/2 and D/3 were shown (by NMR) to be
a mixture of glycerol derivatives; the identiﬁcation of their
components was carried out by NMR and ESIMS. An
aliquot each of fractions D/2 and D/3 was acetylated by
treatment with acetic anhydride and pyridine and then
puriﬁed by normal phase HPLC. The fractions turned out
to be mixtures of monoglyceride diacetates (fraction D/2)
and glyceryl ethers diacetates (fraction D/3)by NMR analysis
(see Section 2). A conﬁrmation was also achieved by com-
paring their spectroscopic properties with those reported in
literature [26,27]. The ESI mass spectra (positive ion mode)
of fractions D/2 and D/3 showed a [M + Na]+peak series,
indicating their composition of homologs; the high ﬁeld
region of the 1H-NMR spectra of both fractions revealed
that all the homologs were unbranched. The assessment of
fatty acid and alcohol composition of monoglycerides and
monoalkyl glycerol ethers diacetates, reported in Tabl e 2,was
Viable cells (%)
0 3 10 30 100
Mumijo extract (μg/ml)
Figure 2: Eﬀect of Mumijo extract on Aβ25–35-induced cell
toxicity. Neurons have been treated wi th 1 μMofAβ25–35 for 5
days. During this period the viability of the cells dropped from
100% (hatched bar) to 28% (solid black bar) if no Mumijo extract
had been added. However, if the cultures had been pre-incubated
with increasing concentrations of Mumijo extract (3–100 μg/ml)
the β25–35-induced cell toxicity is reduced. Control values are set to
100% (hatched bar); n=10. The means ±SEM are given. ∗P<.001
[versus controls (plus Aβ25–35)]. Cell viability was determined
applying the MTT assay procedure.
based on the estimation of the relative intensity of the peaks
in their ESI spectra. Tab l e 2 shows also the free fatty acid
composition determined by GC-MS analysis performed on
their methyl esters.
3.2. Mumijo Extract Protects Cortical Neurons against Aβ25–
35-Caused Reduction of Cell Viability. The toxic eﬀect of the
Aβfragment, Aβ25–35, was assessed in primary rat cortical
neurons. Application of the fragment at a concentration of
1μM caused within the 5-day incubation period a signiﬁcant
reduction of viable cells to 27.8 ±6.1% (P <.001). Mumijo
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 5
Cell growth (%)
Cell growth (%)
Figure 3: Eﬀect of Mumijo on the cell growth of neuronal PC12
cells. (a) Eﬀect of non-puriﬁed Mumijo extract on growth of
permanent PC12 cells. (b) Fraction D/3, containing glyceryl ether
diacetates caused a dose-dependent stimulation of proliferation.
Incubation conditions are given under Section 2.
extract alone was found to have no eﬀect on the viability
of the neurons. However, if the neurons were pre-incubated
with Mumijo extract prior to addition of the Aβ25–35, a
signiﬁcant higher cell viability was determined (Figure 2). At
concentrations of 3 μg/ml or higher of Mumijo extract, the
percentage of viable cells increased from 27.8 ±6.1% (in the
absence of extract) to 98.6 ±9.3% (10 μg/ml) and 82.4 ±
8.9% (30 μg/ml) (P<.001), respectively. The neuroprotective
eﬀect displayed by the Mumijo extract was still signiﬁcant at
1μg/ml (not shown).
3.3. Mumijo Extract Promotes PC12 Cell Growth. The per-
manent PC12 cell line, a model system for neuronal dif-
ferentiation , was used as a second cell system to
assess the biological activity of Mumijo (Figure 3). The non-
puriﬁed extract displaced no signiﬁcant growth stimulatory
eﬀect between 0.1 and 10 μg/ml. However, after puriﬁcation,
Mumijo fraction D/3 was eﬀective and resulted in a signif-
icant stimulation of cell growth. Already at a concentration
of 0.3 μg/ml, a signiﬁcant increase in the growth stimulatory
activity could be measured (114.0 ±6.8%; P<.001), while
the maximal growth promoting function was determined
between 3.0 and 10.0 μg/ml (139.2 ±12.3% or 129.2 ±
A detailed description of the components in Mumijo from
Central Asia revealed  primarily inorganic components,
for example, minerals (18–20%), considerable amounts
of organic components, primarily of proteins (13–17%),
steroids (3.3–6.5%), carbohydrates (1.5–2%) and nitrogen-
containing compounds (0.05–0.08%), in addition to lipids
(4–4.5%). By our activity-guided isolation procedure, using
neuronal cells, we identiﬁed that the major organic, bioactive
components are wax esters. The mineral content of the
Antartican Mumijo has not yet been determined, leaving
room also for a potential application in the treatment
of bone diseases . Likewise the potential biomedical
activity of the monoglycerides, known to possess potent
antimicrobial/microbicidal activity , and of the neutral
glyceroglucolipids , comprising anti-stomach ache eﬀec-
tiveness, are not addressed here.
The chemical analysis of the fossil sample of Mumijo
actually revealed that its composition parallels those pre-
viously reported for other samples of non-fossil material,
with some substantial diﬀerences. The organic extract of
Antarctic Mumijo contained mainly wax esters (70% wt),
with considerable amounts of free fatty acids (20% wt).
Monoglycerides and free monoalkyl glycerol ethers were
also detected in signiﬁcant amounts (3% wt and 1.6% wt,
resp.). Monoalkyl glycerol ethers are most frequently found
as alkyldiacylglycerols (similar to triacylglycerols). However,
these compounds, whose occurrence in petrel stomach oils
has been reported [9,10,31,32], as well as triglycerides
and/or diglycerides, present in large amounts in other
previously examined oil samples, were not detected at all in
the Mumijo sample investigated. This diﬀerence might be
ascribed to the age of the sample and, as a consequence, to the
eﬀect of a slow lipolysis. Our sample also lacked cholesterol
esters, found in some other Mumijo oils.
Glyceryl ethers were identiﬁed by Tsujimoto and Toyama
 in the fraction of some ﬁsh liver oils and, subsequently,
they have been found in diverse sources, including most
of the petrel stomach oils investigated [10,12]. The major
monoalkyl ethers are: 1-O-hexadecylglycerol (16:0 alkyl or
chimyl alcohol), 1-O-octadecylglycerol (18:0 alkyl or batyl
alcohol) and 1-O-octadec-9-enyl glycerol (18:1 alk-9-enyl
or selachyl alcohol). The trivial names go back to the ﬁsh
species from which they have originally been isolated. In
1948, Berger  reported the central depressant action of α-
substituted glycerol ethers, and of chimyl and batyl alcohols.
6 Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
bone diseases ?
Figure 4: Main biomedical activity (established as well as expected from literature data) of the diﬀerent organic fractions, which have been
separated from Antarctic Mumijo. A further potential can be supposed from the inorganic component(s), the minerals, with respect to their
ameliorating function in bone diseases. The scheme shows also a cross section through a Mumijo sample from Antarctica (size: 2.5 cm). The
layered deposition of the waxy organic material is self-evident.
Since then, reports have appeared claiming a number of fur-
ther pharmacological activities, such as antimicrobial ,
tubercolostatic  and Lactobacillus growth-promoting
activities , as well as a protective eﬀect against radia-
tion sickness  and radiation-induced leucopenia .
Bodman and Maisin  reported that topical application
of α-glyceryl ethers as well as of batyl and selachyl alcohols
signiﬁcantly accelerated the rate of wound healing in man
when the healing process had been pathologically inhibited.
Burford and Gowdey  claimed that batyl and selachyl
alcohols showed anti-inﬂammatory eﬀects comparable to
hydrocortisone in rats when administered p.o. In 1972, Ando
et al.  reported the antitumor activity of fatty alcohols
and α-glyceryl ethers of fatty alcohols. These properties could
explain some medical applications of Mumijo in oriental
medicine, such as its use for gastric and intestinal ulcers,
healing of fractures, burns and skin diseases, tuberculosis,
respiratory disease and inﬂammations .
The present ﬁnding that Mumijo is rich in (α-glyceryl
ethers of) fatty alcohols is in accordance with recent data,
which demonstrate that distinct fatty alcohols present strong
potential for the treatment of neurological diseases, and
are able to modulate neuroinﬂammation via induction of
diﬀerentiation of neural stem cells into mature neurons.
Based on these data, it had been proposed that those
compounds might represent an approach for the treatment
(or cure) of neuropathies . Very well established is also
the neuroprotective action of polyunsaturated fatty acids in
Parkinson’saswellasinAlzheimer’sdisease. In addition,
since >50 years shark liver oil has been used as a therapeutic
and preventive agent. In this preparation, the most active
ingredients are the ether-linked glycerols, which have been
suspected to act via activation of protein kinase C resulting
in a immunostimulating action on the macrophage .
Taken together, our data presented here show that
the Antarctic Mumijo is rich in glyceryl ether derivatives
which—according to the data given—display distinct and
marked neuroprotective activity. Schematically, the biomedi-
cal potential of Antarctic Mumijo is summarized in Figure 4.
The main organic components, the wax esters and the glyc-
erol ethers, are known to display neuroprotective potential.
Future studies will prove if the monoalkyl ethers display also
anti-stomach ache capacity. Finally, the triglycerides have
to be studied for their putative antimicrobial activity. The
inorganic component(s), the minerals existing in Mumijo,
may have their ameliorating function in bone diseases. An
outline of the exploitation strategies for traditional and
modern drugs applicable in the biomedicine has been given
for the Mediterranean region .
European Commission (project NOMATEC); Bundesmin-
ur Bildung und Forschung (Health of marine
The authors thank C. Eckert for the gift of the Mumijo sam-
ples. Mass and NMR spectra were recorded at the “Centro
Interdipartimentale di Analisi Strumentale”, Universita’ di
Napoli “Federico II”.
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