A small population of brain cells deep in a memory-making region of the brain controls the production of new neurons and may have a role in common brain disorders, according to a study from scientists at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.
The scientists, who published their work in Neuron, showed that “mossy cells” in the hippocampus regulate local stem cells to control their production of new neurons, which is important for normal learning and memory, stress response, and mood regulation. Such neurogenesis in the adult brain is disrupted in many common conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, traumatic brain injury, and some forms of epilepsy.
A new line of human stem cells shows promise for one day advancing treatment for epileptic seizures. As reported in STEM CELLS Translational Medicine (SCTM), the cells are designed to deliver adenosine – which calms down overexcited neurons and protects them from damage — to the central nervous system (CNS). The research was conducted by scientists at the University of Bonn and the Central Institute of Mental Health (CIMH) in Mannheim.
Adenosine is a powerful regulator that helps the body maintain its inner balance. When an injury occurs to the CNS, it releases high levels of adenosine, which calms down the overexcited neurons and alleviates neurological damage caused by stroke, trauma, reduced oxygen, pain and, in particular, epileptic seizures. “But attempts to systemically deliver adenosine to needed areas in the CNS during a crisis have been hampered by adenosine’s fast metabolic breakdown, the inability to sufficiently permeate the blood-brain-barrier and serious side effects of such cardiac suppression,” said Philipp Koch, M.D., of the Hector Institute for Translational Brain Research at the CIMH. Dr. Koch headed up the study described in SCTM, which was conducted at the Institute of Reconstructive Neurobiology of the University of Bonn Medical Faculty together with Dr. Oliver Brüstle.
Stem cell transplants may be more effective than the drug mitoxantrone for people with severe cases of multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a new study published in the February 11, 2015, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
The study involved 21 people whose disability due to MS had increased during the previous year even though they were taking conventional medications (also known as first-line treatments). The participants, who were an average age of 36, were at an average disability level where a cane or crutch was needed to walk.
McLean Hospital and Harvard Stem Cell Institute scientists have new evidence that stem cell transplantation could be a worthwhile strategy to help persons with epilepsy who do not respond to anti-seizure drugs.
As reported in Cell Stem Cell, the laboratory of McLean Associate Neurobiologist Sangmi Chung, PhD, transplanted seizure-inhibiting, human embryonic stem cell-derived neurons into the brains of mice with a common form of epilepsy. Half of the mice who received the transplanted neurons no longer had seizures, while the other half experienced a significant drop in seizure frequency.
“After the transplantation we observed that the human neurons integrate into the epileptic brain,” said Chung, who is also a Harvard Stem Cell Institute affiliated faculty member and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. “The transplanted neurons begin to receive excitatory input from host neurons and in turn generate inhibitory responses that reverse the electrical hyperactivity that cause seizures.” (more…)