Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Progress in exploring new avenues for brain repair: Astroglia reprogrammed to generate synapse-forming neurons

Date:
May 20, 2010
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Scientists report a major step forward in discovering a therapy for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or stroke. The researchers were able to convert glial cells of the brain into two different functional classes of neurons.

A research team led by Professor Magdalena Götz and Dr. Benedikt Berninger of Helmholtz Zentrum München and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) Munich, reports a major step forward in discovering a therapy for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's or stroke. The researchers were able to convert glial cells of the brain into two different functional classes of neurons.

The findings are being published in the online, open access journal PLoS Biology.

Neurons are the cells in the brain which transmit information, while the astroglia (star-shaped glial cells) serve as a supportive scaffold and are involved in metabolism. Moreover, astroglia are closely related to radial glial cells, which during embryonic forebrain development function as precursors for most neurons. In fact, some glial cells even in the adult brain retain the capability of producing neurons -- however these are only found in specific regions.

It is still not known exactly what differentiates normal astroglia from radial glial cells with neurogenic potential. However, the researchers led by Magdalena Götz, director of the Institute of Stem Cell Research at Helmholtz Zentrum München and chair of Physiological Genomics at LMU, have already shown in previous studies that astroglia from the cerebral cortex of young mice, which are normally incapable of generating neurons, can be driven to convert into neurons by forced expression of special regulatory proteins.

In this study, Götz and her team showed how astroglia can be directly converted into the two main classes of cortical neurons. This was made possible by the selective virus- mediated expression of specific proteins -- transcription factors -- which regulate the transcription of DNA. While the transcription factor neurogenin-2 directs the generation of excitatory neurons, the same astroglial cells yield inhibitory neurons after transduction of the transcription factor Dlx2.

"In this study we have succeeded in reprogramming the newly created neurons to the extent that they can now develop functioning synapses. These release -- depending on the transcription factor used -- either excitatory or inhibitory neurotransmitter substances," said Dr. Christophe Heinrich, first author of the study. This process could not only be observed in young astroglia, but even in astroglia in the adult brain following tissue injury-induced reactivation.

"Our findings nurture the hope that the barrier separating the astroglial and neuronal cells -- closely related as they are -- is not insurmountable," Dr. Berninger emphasized. Due to these encouraging results, the researchers intend to pursue this avenue further to gain new neurons from the glial cells present in the brain, in order to find therapies for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Christophe Heinrich, Robert Blum, Sergio Gascón, Giacomo Masserdotti, Pratibha Tripathi, Rodrigo Sánchez, Steffen Tiedt, Timm Schroeder, Magdalena Götz, Benedikt Berninger. Directing Astroglia from the Cerebral Cortex into Subtype Specific Functional Neurons. PLoS Biology, 2010; 8 (5): e1000373 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000373

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Progress in exploring new avenues for brain repair: Astroglia reprogrammed to generate synapse-forming neurons." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 May 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100518180848.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2010, May 20). Progress in exploring new avenues for brain repair: Astroglia reprogrammed to generate synapse-forming neurons. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100518180848.htm
Public Library of Science. "Progress in exploring new avenues for brain repair: Astroglia reprogrammed to generate synapse-forming neurons." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100518180848.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

Courts Conflicted Over Healthcare Law

AP (July 22, 2014) — Two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings Tuesday on the legality of the federally-run healthcare exchange that operates in 36 states. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) — The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Scientists Find New Way To Make Human Platelets

Newsy (July 22, 2014) — Boston scientists have discovered a new way to create fully functioning human platelets using a bioreactor and human stem cells. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) — New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins