Astrocytes control the generation of new neurons from neural stem cells

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.

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 . 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 and we have shown that they signal through the 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 behind the control of neurogenesis. Neurogenesis is one of the components of , 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.

Related Stories

New findings disprove old truth about brain cells

Nov 16, 2006

The most common cells in the brain changes their behavior when the tissue is damaged, but their appearance does not change nearly to the extent that researchers thought. The domains of individual astrocytes are well contained ...

Astrocytes affect brain's information signaling

Jun 14, 2010

Astrocytes are the most common type of cell in the brain and play an important role in the function of neurons - nerve cells. New research from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, shows that they are also directly involved ...

Recommended for you

Growing a blood vessel in a week

1 hour ago

The technology for creating new tissues from stem cells has taken a giant leap forward. Three tablespoons of blood are all that is needed to grow a brand new blood vessel in just seven days. This is shown ...

Testing time for stem cells

4 hours ago

DefiniGEN is one of the first commercial opportunities to arise from Cambridge's expertise in stem cell research. Here, we look at some of the fundamental research that enables it to supply liver and pancreatic ...

Team finds key signaling pathway in cause of preeclampsia

23 hours ago

A team of researchers led by a Wayne State University School of Medicine associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology has published findings that provide novel insight into the cause of preeclampsia, the leading cause ...

Rapid test to diagnose severe sepsis

Oct 23, 2014

A new test, developed by University of British Columbia researchers, could help physicians predict within an hour if a patient will develop severe sepsis so they can begin treatment immediately.

User comments