Milestone in the regeneration of brain cells

August 20, 2007

The majority of cells in the human brain are not nerve cells but star-shaped glia cells, the so called “astroglia”. “Glia means “glue”, explains Götz. “As befits their name, until now these cells have been regarded merely as a kind of “putty” keeping the nerve cells together.

A couple of years ago, the research group had been already able to prove that these glia cells function as stem cells during development. This means that they are able to differentiate into functional nerve cells. However, this ability gets lost in later phases of development, so that even after an injury to the adult brain glial cells are unable to generate any more nerve cells.

In order to be able to reverse this development, the team studied what molecular switches are essential for the creation of nerve cells from glial cells during development. These regulator proteins are introduced into glial cells from the postnatal brain, which indeed respond by switching on the expression of neuronal proteins.

In his current work, Dr. Benedikt Berninger, was now able to show that single regulator proteins are quite sufficient to generate new functional nerve cells from glia cells. The transition from glia-to-neuron could be followed live at a time-lapse microscope. It was shown that glia cells need some days for the reprogramming until they take the normal shape of a nerve cell. “These new nerve cells then have also the typical electrical properties of normal nerve cells”, emphasises Berninger. “We could show this by means of electrical recordings”.

“Our results are very encouraging, because the generation of correctly functional nerve cells from postnatal glia cells is an important step on the way to be able to replace functional nerve cells also after injuries in the brain,” underlines Magdalena Götz.

Source: National Research Center for Environment and Health

Explore further: Researchers trace Parkinson's damage in the heart

Related Stories

Researchers trace Parkinson's damage in the heart

July 13, 2018
A new way to examine stress and inflammation in the heart will help Parkinson's researchers test new therapies and explore an unappreciated way the disease puts people at risk of falls and hospitalization.

DNA marks in adults tracked back to changes in earliest days of life

July 11, 2018
Scientists have gained a glimpse of how marks on our genes that could be linked to adverse health outcomes in later life behave differently in the first few days after conception, according to new research published in Science ...

Why the left hemisphere of the brain understands language better than the right

July 12, 2018
Nerve cells in the brain region planum temporale have more synapses in the left hemisphere than in the right hemisphere – which is vital for rapid processing of auditory speech, according to the report published by researchers ...

Can fasting improve MS symptoms?

July 9, 2018
People with multiple sclerosis (MS) can find an abundance of conflicting advice suggesting that special diets—everything from avoiding processed foods to going low-carb—will ease their symptoms. But the evidence is scanty ...

Direct conversion of non-neuronal cells into nerve cells

July 2, 2018
In 2012, a team of scientists headed by Professor Benedikt Berninger first succeeded in reprogramming connective tissue cells present in the brain into neurons. Until now, however, it was completely unknown which intermediate ...

Watching stem cells repair spinal cord in real time

June 22, 2018
Monash University researchers have restored movement and regenerated nerves using stem cells in zebra fish where the spinal cord is severely damaged.

Recommended for you

Researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts

July 18, 2018
Scientists from the New York Stem Cell Foundation (NYSCF) Research Institute have developed a new bone engineering technique called Segmental Additive Tissue Engineering (SATE). The technique, described in a paper published ...

Fetal gene therapy prevents fatal neurodegenerative disease

July 16, 2018
A fatal neurodegenerative condition known as Gaucher disease can be prevented in mice following fetal gene therapy, finds a new study led by UCL, the KK Women's and Children's Hospital and National University Health System ...

New study finds that fat consumption is the only cause of weight gain

July 13, 2018
Scientists from the University of Aberdeen and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have undertaken the largest study of its kind looking at what components of diet—fat, carbohydrates or protein—caused mice to gain weight.

Basic research in fruit flies leads to potential drug for diseases afflicting millions

July 13, 2018
River blindness and elephantiasis are debilitating diseases caused by parasitic worms that infect as many as 150 million people worldwide. They are among the "neglected tropical diseases" for which better treatments are desperately ...

Light based cochlear implant restores hearing in gerbils

July 12, 2018
A team of researchers with members from a variety of institutions across Germany has developed a new type of cochlear implant—one based on light. In their paper published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, the ...

Researchers discover gene that controls bone-to-fat ratio in bone marrow

July 12, 2018
In an unexpected discovery, UCLA researchers have found that a gene previously known to control human metabolism also controls the equilibrium of bone and fat in bone marrow as well as how an adult stem cell expresses its ...

0 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.