Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Stem cell transplant restores memory, learning in mice

Date:
April 21, 2013
Source:
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
For the first time, human embryonic stem cells have been transformed into nerve cells that helped mice regain the ability to learn and remember.

For the first time, human embryonic stem cells have been transformed into nerve cells that helped mice regain the ability to learn and remember.
Credit: mgkuijpers / Fotolia

For the first time, human embryonic stem cells have been transformed into nerve cells that helped mice regain the ability to learn and remember.

Related Articles


A study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is the first to show that human stem cells can successfully implant themselves in the brain and then heal neurological deficits, says senior author Su-Chun Zhang, a professor of neuroscience and neurology.

Once inside the mouse brain, the implanted stem cells formed two common, vital types of neurons, which communicate with the chemicals GABA or acetylcholine. "These two neuron types are involved in many kinds of human behavior, emotions, learning, memory, addiction and many other psychiatric issues," says Zhang.

The human embryonic stem cells were cultured in the lab, using chemicals that are known to promote development into nerve cells -- a field that Zhang has helped pioneer for 15 years. The mice were a special strain that do not reject transplants from other species.

After the transplant, the mice scored significantly better on common tests of learning and memory in mice. For example, they were more adept in the water maze test, which challenged them to remember the location of a hidden platform in a pool.

The study began with deliberate damage to a part of the brain that is involved in learning and memory.

Three measures were critical to success, says Zhang: location, timing and purity. "Developing brain cells get their signals from the tissue that they reside in, and the location in the brain we chose directed these cells to form both GABA and cholinergic neurons."

The initial destruction was in an area called the medial septum, which connects to the hippocampus by GABA and cholinergic neurons. "This circuitry is fundamental to our ability to learn and remember," says Zhang.

The transplanted cells, however, were placed in the hippocampus -- a vital memory center -- at the other end of those memory circuits. After the transferred cells were implanted, in response to chemical directions from the brain, they started to specialize and connect to the appropriate cells in the hippocampus.

The process is akin to removing a section of telephone cable, Zhang says. If you can find the correct route, you could wire the replacement from either end.

For the study, published in the current issue of Nature Biotechnology, Zhang and first author Yan Liu, a postdoctoral associate at the Waisman Center on campus, chemically directed the human embryonic stem cells to begin differentiation into neural cells, and then injected those intermediate cells. Ushering the cells through partial specialization prevented the formation of unwanted cell types in the mice.

Ensuring that nearly all of the transplanted cells became neural cells was critical, Zhang says. "That means you are able to predict what the progeny will be, and for any future use in therapy, you reduce the chance of injecting stem cells that could form tumors. In many other transplant experiments, injecting early progenitor cells resulted in masses of cells -- tumors. This didn't happen in our case because the transplanted cells are pure and committed to a particular fate so that they do not generate anything else. We need to be sure we do not inject the seeds of cancer."

Brain repair through cell replacement is a Holy Grail of stem cell transplant, and the two cell types are both critical to brain function, Zhang says. "Cholinergic neurons are involved in Alzheimer's and Down syndrome, but GABA neurons are involved in many additional disorders, including schizophrenia, epilepsy, depression and addiction."

Though tantalizing, stem-cell therapy is unlikely to be the immediate benefit. Zhang notes that "for many psychiatric disorders, you don't know which part of the brain has gone wrong." The new study, he says, is more likely to see immediate application in creating models for drug screening and discovery.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Wisconsin-Madison. The original article was written by David Tenenbaum. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yan Liu, Jason P Weick, Huisheng Liu, Robert Krencik, Xiaoqing Zhang, Lixiang Ma, Guo-min Zhou, Melvin Ayala, Su-Chun Zhang. Medial ganglionic eminence–like cells derived from human embryonic stem cells correct learning and memory deficits. Nature Biotechnology, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nbt.2565

Cite This Page:

University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Stem cell transplant restores memory, learning in mice." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130421151613.htm>.
University of Wisconsin-Madison. (2013, April 21). Stem cell transplant restores memory, learning in mice. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130421151613.htm
University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Stem cell transplant restores memory, learning in mice." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130421151613.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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