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Stem cells rescue nerve cells by direct contact

Date:
February 2, 2010
Source:
Karolinska Institutet
Summary:
Scientists in Sweden have shown how transplanted stem cells can connect with and rescue threatened neurons and brain tissue. The results point the way to new possible treatments for brain damage and neurodegenerative diseases.

Two exogenous murine neural stem cells (NSCs) filled with the gap junction-permeable dye Calcein (green) and the gap junction-impermeable dye DiI (red) following engraftment to an organotypic stritatal tissue culture. Cell nuclei are displayed by DAPI nuclear counterstain (blue).
Credit: Copyright Johan Jäderstad and Eric Herlenius

Scientists at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet have shown how transplanted stem cells can connect with and rescue threatened neurons and brain tissue. The results point the way to new possible treatments for brain damage and neurodegenerative diseases.

A possible strategy for treating neurodegenerative diseases is to transplant stem cells into the brain that prevent existing nerve cells from dying. The method has proved successful in different models, but the mechanisms behind it are still unknown. According to one hypothesis, the stem cells mature into fully-mature neurons that communicate with the threatened brain tissue; according to another, the stem cells secrete various growth factors that affect the host neurons.

The new report, co-authored by several international research groups and led by Karolinska Institutet, shows that stem cells transplanted into damaged or threatened nerve tissue quickly establish direct channels, called gap junctions, to the nerve cells. Stem cells actively bring diseased neurons back from the brink via cross-talk through gap junctions, the connections between cells that allow molecular signals to pass back and forth. The study found that the nerve cells were prevented from dying only when these gap junctions were formed. The results were obtained from mice and human stem cells in cultivated brain tissue, and from a series of rodent models for human neurodegenerative diseases and acute brain injuries.

"Many different molecules can be transported through gap junctions," says Eric Herlenius, who led the study. "This means that a new door to the possible future treatment of neuronal damage has been opened, both figuratively and literally."

The international team of scientist, beside Karolinska Institutet, included researchers from Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, Harvard Medical School and Université Libre de Bruxelles.

Their report is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Online Early Edition).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Karolinska Institutet. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Johan Jäderstad, Linda M. Jäderstad, Jianxue Li, Satyan Chintawar, Carmen Salto, Massimo Pandolfo, Vaclav Ourednik, Yang D. Teng, Richard L. Sidman, Ernest Arenas, Evan Y. Snyder and Eric Herlenius. Communication via gap junctions underlies early functional and beneficial interactions between grafted neural stem cells and the host. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2010; (in press)

Cite This Page:

Karolinska Institutet. "Stem cells rescue nerve cells by direct contact." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100201171754.htm>.
Karolinska Institutet. (2010, February 2). Stem cells rescue nerve cells by direct contact. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100201171754.htm
Karolinska Institutet. "Stem cells rescue nerve cells by direct contact." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100201171754.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

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