New study finds external stimulation impacts white matter development in the postnatal brain

A team at Children's National Medical Center has found that external stimulation has an impact on the postnatal development of a specific region of the brain. Published in Nature Neuroscience, the study used sensory deprivation to look at the growth and collection of NG2-expressing oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (NG2 cells) in the sensory cortex of the brain. This type of research is part of the Center for Neuroscience Research focus on understanding the development and treatment of white matter diseases.

NG2 cells can develop into oligodendrocytes progenitor cells that generate myelin, the protective material around the axons of neurons, but this is based on functional and developmental interactions with outside stimuli. With this kind of plasticity, or ability to change and mold a cell in different ways, the researchers were able to determine that can control the number and positioning of developing NG2 cells.

"Understanding how external stimulation and experience impact the development of NG2 cells means that we can try to modulate these factors to help regulate and promote the expansion of these cells. This could ultimately have an impact on white matter diseases," stated Vittorio Gallo, PhD, study coordinator and Director of the Center for Neuroscience Research at the Children's Research Institute. "We will now investigate in more detail how sensory experience can regulate NG2 cell development, particularly how experience activates specific genes and in these cells."

Collectively called NG2 progenitors, these cells also serve as the primary source of cells to regenerate oligodendrocytes and myelin in the postnatal brain. Without myelin, the brain does not function properly. Myelination can be impaired for a number of reasons, resulting in mental retardation and developmental disabilities. Myelination, white matter growth and repair, and the study of complex mechanisms of pre- and postnatal are a key focus of the Center for Neuroscience Research at Children's National, which also houses the White Matter Diseases Program, one of the largest clinical programs in the country for treating children with disorders that cause the brain's to degenerate.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mysterious cells may play role in ALS

Nov 17, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- By tracking the fate of a group of immature cells that persist in the adult brain and spinal cord, Johns Hopkins researchers discovered in mice that these cells undergo dramatic changes in ALS, also known ...

Recommended for you

Student seeks to improve pneumonia vaccines

20 hours ago

Almost a million Americans fall ill with pneumonia each year. Nearly half of these cases require hospitalization, and 5-7 percent are fatal. Current vaccines provide protection against some strains of the ...

Seabed solution for cold sores

22 hours ago

The blue blood of abalone, a seabed delicacy could be used to combat common cold sores and related herpes virus following breakthrough research at the University of Sydney.

Better living through mitochondrial derived vesicles

Aug 19, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—As principal transformers of bacteria, organelles, synapses, and cells, vesicles might be said to be the stuff of life. One need look no further than the rapid rise to prominence of The ...

Zebrafish help to unravel Alzheimer's disease

Aug 19, 2014

New fundamental knowledge about the regulation of stem cells in the nerve tissue of zebrafish embryos results in surprising insights into neurodegenerative disease processes in the human brain. A new study by scientists at ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

JVK
1 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2012
For those who understand the role of gonadotropin releasing hormone in brain development, this is what they are reporting on.

Experience-dependent regulation of NG2 progenitors in the developing barrel cortex
http://www.nature...190.html