A gut feeling about neural stem cells

Proper function of the digestive system requires coordinated contraction of the muscle in the wall of the intestinal tract, regulated by the enteric nervous system. Damage or loss of these neurons can result in intestinal motility disorders, such as Hirschsprung's disease, for which there is a dearth of effective treatments. In principle, disorders of the enteric nervous system could be treated by cell therapy, but it was previously unknown whether transplanted stem cells could migrate to the appropriate location in the gut and then become neurons that could properly innervate the bowel.

In this issue of the , Heather Young and colleagues at the University of Melbourne, isolated from mice, cultured them to promote the formation of neural , and implanted them into the muscle in the colons of recipient mice.

Young and colleagues found that these cells were able to migrate away from the transplantation site and develop into neurons that provided stimulation to the portions of the gut the regulate motility.

These findings suggest that the transplantation of neural stem cells is a promising therapeutic avenue for the treatment of gastrointestinal motility disorders.

More information: Transplanted progenitors generate functional enteric neurons in the postnatal colon, J Clin Invest. doi:10.1172/JCI65963

Related Stories

Adult gut can generate new neurons

date Aug 04, 2009

The adult lower digestive tract can be stimulated to add neurons to the intestinal system, according to new mouse research in the August 5 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. The study shows that drugs similar to the ne ...

Stem cells may hold promise for Lou Gehrig's disease

date Jan 09, 2013

Apparent stem cell transplant success in mice may hold promise for people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease. The results of the study were released today and will be presented at the American ...

Recommended for you

Protein may improve liver regeneration

date 10 hours ago

Researchers at UC Davis have illuminated an important distinction between mice and humans: how human livers heal. The difference centers on a protein called PPARα, which activates liver regeneration. Normally, mouse PPARα ...

Female embryos less likely to survive to birth

date 18 hours ago

New research has challenged the prevailing belief that the higher proportion of male babies born in the general population results from a higher proportion of males being conceived. 

User comments

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.