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

August 13, 2012

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.

Explore further: Discovery of key pathway interaction may lead to therapies that aid brain growth and repair

Related Stories

Mysterious cells may play role in ALS

November 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 ...

Brain electrical activity spurs insulation of brain's wiring

August 11, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have discovered in mice a molecular trigger that initiates myelination, the process by which brain cell networks are reinforced with an insulating material ...

Recommended for you

New avenue for understanding cause of common diseases

August 25, 2016

A ground-breaking Auckland study could lead to discoveries about many common diseases such as diabetes, cancer and dementia. The new finding could also illuminate the broader role of the enigmatic mitochondria in human development.

New method creates endless supply of kidney precursor cells

August 25, 2016

Salk Institute scientists have discovered the holy grail of endless youthfulness—at least when it comes to one type of human kidney precursor cell. Previous attempts to maintain cultures of the so-called nephron progenitor ...

Strict diet combats rare progeria aging disorders

August 25, 2016

Mice with a severe aging disease live three times longer if they eat thirty percent less. Moreover, they age much healthier than mice that eat as much as they want. These are findings of a joint study being published today ...

1 comment

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

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.