New cell type developed for possible treatment of Alzheimer's and other brain diseases

November 7, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—UC Irvine researchers have created a new stem cell-derived cell type with unique promise for treating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's.

Dr. Edwin Monuki of UCI's Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center, developmental & cell biology graduate student Momoko Watanabe and colleagues developed these cells –called choroid plexus epithelial cells – from existing mouse and human embryonic stem cell lines.

CPECs are critical for proper functioning of the choroid plexus, the tissue in the that produces cerebrospinal fluid. Among their various roles, CPECs make CSF and remove metabolic waste and foreign substances from the fluid and brain.

In , the choroid plexus and CPECs age prematurely, resulting in reduced CSF formation and decreased ability to flush out such debris as the plaque-forming proteins that are a hallmark of Alzheimer's. Transplant studies have provided proof of concept for CPEC-based therapies. However, such therapies have been hindered by the inability to expand or generate CPECs in culture.

"Our method is promising, because for the first time we can use stem cells to create large amounts of these epithelial cells, which could be utilized in different ways to treat neurodegenerative diseases," said Monuki, an associate professor of pathology & laboratory medicine and developmental & cell biology at UCI.

The study appears in today's issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

To create the new cells, Monuki and his colleagues coaxed embryonic stem cells to differentiate into immature neural . They then developed the immature cells into CPECs capable of being delivered to a patient's choroid plexus.

These cells could be part of neurodegenerative disease treatments in at least three ways, Monuki said. First, they're able to increase the production of CSF to help flush out plaque-causing proteins from brain tissue and limit disease progression. Second, CPEC "superpumps" could be designed to transport high levels of therapeutic compounds to the CSF, brain and spinal cord. Third, these can be used to screen and optimize drugs that improve choroid plexus function.

Monuki said the next steps are to develop an effective drug screening system and to conduct proof-of-concept studies to see how these CPECs affect the brain in mouse models of Huntington's, Alzheimer's and pediatric diseases.

Explore further: Crucial advance in stem cell research: Human skin cells converted to neural precursor cells

Related Stories

Recommended for you

New insights on how cocaine changes the brain

November 25, 2015

The burst of energy and hyperactivity that comes with a cocaine high is a rather accurate reflection of what's going on in the brain of its users, finds a study published November 25 in Cell Reports. Through experiments conducted ...

Can physical exercise enhance long-term memory?

November 25, 2015

Exercise can enhance the development of new brain cells in the adult brain, a process called adult neurogenesis. These newborn brain cells play an important role in learning and memory. A new study has determined that mice ...

Umbilical cells help eye's neurons connect

November 24, 2015

Cells isolated from human umbilical cord tissue have been shown to produce molecules that help retinal neurons from the eyes of rats grow, connect and survive, according to Duke University researchers working with Janssen ...

Brain connections predict how well you can pay attention

November 24, 2015

During a 1959 television appearance, Jack Kerouac was asked how long it took him to write his novel On The Road. His response – three weeks – amazed the interviewer and ignited an enduring myth that the book was composed ...

No cable spaghetti in the brain

November 24, 2015

Our brain is a mysterious machine. Billions of nerve cells are connected such that they store information as efficiently as books are stored in a well-organized library. To this date, many details remain unclear, for instance ...


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.