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X-ray to study micronutrients in human minibrains

Chemical elements in human cerebral organoids described

Date:
February 10, 2017
Source:
D'Or Institute for Research and Education
Summary:
It is consensus that mothers' diet has critical effects on fetal development, and the absence of nutrients is related to impairments on brain formation. In order to characterize the nutrients during human brain development, Brazilian scientists investigated human minibrains using synchrotron radiation, a sort of X-ray. Results showed that concentration and distribution of chemical elements are related to the stage of development and similar to previous data obtained from postmortem brain samples.
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This image shows brain organoid immunostained in green for neurons and in red for neural stem cells. Cell nuclei are presented in blue.
Credit: D'Or Institute for Research and Education

Micronutrients and minerals play a key role during human fetal development. A study published in PeerJ this week describes the composition and distribution of some elements in human minibrains created in the lab.

Until today, the study of nutrients in brains was restricted to postmortem or non-human tissue. Human brain organoids -- tiny tridimensional structures created from human stem cells in vitro -- helped to understand the dynamics of nutrients during neurodevelopment.

Researchers analyzed human brain organoids, also known as minibrains, by synchrotron radiation, a sort of X-ray that allows the identification of the atomic composition of micronutrients. This technique consists of exciting tissue samples in order to quantify the unique photon signature of each atom. In doing so, they described how phosphorus, sulfur, potassium, calcium, iron and zinc are distributed during brain formation.

Simone Cardoso, Associate Professor at the Institute of Physics at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, highlights the interdisciplinary nature of the study, which involved biologists and physicists. "This allows us to gather a wide range of scientific expertise to plan and perform the experiments."

The minibrains were up to 45-days old. The authors described the distribution of nutrients in two different stages of development: an initial one, of intense cellular proliferation (day 30); and at a second time point, when cells start to become neurons and organize themselves into layers (day 45).

The results show that the concentration and distribution of micronutrients are related to the stage of development and similar to previous data obtained from postmortem brain samples.

It is very clear that mothers' diet during pregnancy has long-term effects on fetal development. The observed nutrients are essential for the appropriate formation of the brain. The lack of some of them during prenatal development is also related to memory deficits and psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia. "This study reinforces how important minibrains can be as a model to investigate several aspects of brain development," says Stevens Rehen, the principal investigator of the study and a researcher working at the D' Or Institute for Research and Education (IDOR) and at the Institute of Biomedical Sciences at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.


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Materials provided by D'Or Institute for Research and Education. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rafaela C. Sartore, Simone C. Cardoso, Yury V.M. Lages, Julia M. Paraguassu, Mariana P. Stelling, Rodrigo F. Madeiro da Costa, Marilia Z. Guimaraes, Carlos A. Pérez, Stevens K. Rehen. Trace elements during primordial plexiform network formation in human cerebral organoids. PeerJ, 2017; 5: e2927 DOI: 10.7717/peerj.2927

Cite This Page:

D'Or Institute for Research and Education. "X-ray to study micronutrients in human minibrains: Chemical elements in human cerebral organoids described." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 February 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170210150255.htm>.
D'Or Institute for Research and Education. (2017, February 10). X-ray to study micronutrients in human minibrains: Chemical elements in human cerebral organoids described. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 24, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170210150255.htm
D'Or Institute for Research and Education. "X-ray to study micronutrients in human minibrains: Chemical elements in human cerebral organoids described." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170210150255.htm (accessed May 24, 2017).

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