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Astrocytes control the generation of new neurons from neural stem cells

Date:
August 24, 2012
Source:
University of Gothenburg
Summary:
Researchers from the Laboratory of astrocyte biology and CNS regeneration headed by Prof. Milos Pekny just published a research article in a prestigious journal Stem Cells on the molecular mechanism that controls generation of new neurons in the brain.

Researchers from the Laboratory of astrocyte biology and CNS regeneration headed by Prof. Milos Pekny just published a research article in a journal Stem Cells on the molecular mechanism that controls generation of new neurons in the brain.

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Astrocytes are cells that have many functions in the central nervous system, such as the control of neuronal synapses, blood flow, or the brain's response to neurotrauma or stroke.

Reduces brain tissue damage

Prof. Pekny's laboratory together with collaborators have earlier demonstrated that astrocytes reduce the brain tissue damage after stroke and that the integration of transplanted neural stem cells can be largely improved by modulating the activity of astrocytes.

Generation of new neurons

In their current study, the Sahlgrenska Academy researchers show how astrocytes control the generation of new neurons in the brain. An important contribution to this project came from Åbo Academy, one of Sahlgrenska's traditional collaborative partners.

"In the brain, astrocytes control how many new neurons are formed from neural stem cells and survive to integrate into the existing neuronal networks. Astrocytes do this by secreting specific molecules but also by much less understood direct cell-cell interactions with stem cells," says Prof. Milos Pekny.

Important regulator

"Astrocytes are in physical contact with neural stem cells and we have shown that they signal through the Notch pathway to stem cells to keep the birth rate of new neurons low. We have also shown that the intermediate filament system of astrocytes is an important regulator of this process. It seems that astrocyte intermediate filaments can be used as a target to increase the birthrate of new neurons."

Target for future therapies

"We are starting to understand some of the cellular and molecular mechanisms behind the control of neurogenesis. Neurogenesis is one of the components of brain plasticity, which plays a role in the learning process as well as in the recovery after brain injury or stroke. This work helps us to understand how plasticity and regenerative response can be therapeutically promoted in the future," says Prof. Milos Pekny.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Ulrika Wilhelmsson, Maryam Faiz, Yolanda de Pablo, Marika Sjöqvist, Daniel Andersson, Åsa Widestrand, Maja Potokar, Matjaž Stenovec, Peter L. P. Smith, Noriko Shinjyo, Tulen Pekny, Robert Zorec, Anders Ståhlberg, Marcela Pekna, Cecilia Sahlgren, Milos Pekny. Astrocytes Negatively Regulate Neurogenesis through the Jagged1-Mediated Notch Pathway. Stem Cells, 2012; DOI: 10.1002/stem.1196

Cite This Page:

University of Gothenburg. "Astrocytes control the generation of new neurons from neural stem cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120824082428.htm>.
University of Gothenburg. (2012, August 24). Astrocytes control the generation of new neurons from neural stem cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120824082428.htm
University of Gothenburg. "Astrocytes control the generation of new neurons from neural stem cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120824082428.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

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