Human umbilical cord blood cells found to enhance survival and maturation of key brain cells

December 14, 2010, University of South Florida

Laboratory culture (in vitro) studies examining the activity of human umbilical cord blood cells (HUCB) on experimental models of central nervous system aging, injury and disease, have shown that HUCBs provide a 'trophic effect' (nutritional effect) that enhances survival and maturation of hippocampal neurons harvested from both young and old laboratory animals.

"As we age, cognitive function tends to decline," said Alison E. Willing, PhD, a professor in the University of South Florida's (USF) Department of Neurosurgery and Brain repair and lead author for a study published in the current issue of Aging and Disease. "Changes in cognitive function are accompanied by changes in the hippocampus, an area of the brain where long term memory, as well as other functions, are located, an area of the brain among those first to suffer the effects of diseases such as Alzheimer's disease."

According to Dr. Willing and her USF co-authors, these changes contribute to stroke and dementia in the when become more susceptible to stressors and disease processes. Because HUCB cells have received attention as an alternative source of that have been studied and shown to be effective with wide therapeutic potentials, how the cells might be used to repair the diseased, as well as normally aging brain, has become an important question.

"It is important to understand how these cells may be manipulated to support hippocampal function in order to develop new therapies," she explained. "Accordingly, this study sought to examine the potential for HUCBs to enhance proliferation and increase survival of hippocampal cells derived from aging adult rat brains."

The study found that HUCBs were not only able to protect hippocampal neurons taken from the brains of young adult and aged rats, but also promoted the growth of dendrites - the branching neurons acting as signaling nerve communication channels - as well as induced the proliferation hippocampal neurons.

"These protective effects may be a function of growth factors and cytokines (a small signaling protein linked to the inflammatory response) produced by the HUCB cells," observed Dr. Willing.

The researchers also reported that the difference between HUCB-treated cultures and non-treated cultures was "more dramatic in the older adult rat brain cultures" than in those younger rats. Further, they speculated that synapses - the communication links between neuronal cells -may have been forming in the cultures.

They concluded that HUCB cells benefit aging adult hippocampal neurons by 'increasing their survival, growth, differentiation, maturation and arborization' (branching).

"The mechanisms by which HUCB cells extend the life of hippocampal cells may include enhancing the proliferative capacity of the cells or protecting existing and newly generated neurons from damage and death," concluded Dr. Willing.

According to Dr. John Sladek, professor of neurology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, this study is important for its potential contribution to regenerative medicine's future ability to benefit from an important source for stem cells, the umbilical cord.

"The fact that HUCBs enhanced the survival of - and maturation of - hippocampal neurons has profound implications for the treating injury and degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, ALS and Parkinson's disease," said Dr. Sladek.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Scientists produce human intestinal lining that re-creates living tissue inside organ-chip

February 16, 2018
Investigators have demonstrated how cells of a human intestinal lining created outside an individual's body mirror living tissue when placed inside microengineered Intestine-Chips, opening the door to personalized testing ...

Data wave hits health care

February 16, 2018
Technology used by Facebook, Google and Amazon to turn spoken language into text, recognize faces and target advertising could help doctors fight one of the deadliest infections in American hospitals.

Researcher explains how statistics, neuroscience improve anesthesiology

February 16, 2018
It's intuitive that anesthesia operates in the brain, but the standard protocol among anesthesiologists when monitoring and dosing patients during surgery is to rely on indirect signs of arousal like movement, and changes ...

Team reports progress in pursuit of sickle cell cure

February 16, 2018
Scientists have successfully used gene editing to repair 20 to 40 percent of stem and progenitor cells taken from the peripheral blood of patients with sickle cell disease, according to Rice University bioengineer Gang Bao.

Appetite-controlling molecule could prevent 'rebound' weight gain after dieting

February 15, 2018
Scientists have revealed how mice control their appetite when under stress such as cold temperatures and starvation, according to a new study by Monash University and St Vincent's Institute in Melbourne. The results shed ...

First study of radiation exposure in human gut Organ Chip device offers hope for better radioprotective drugs

February 14, 2018
Chernobyl. Three Mile Island. Fukushima. Accidents at nuclear power plants can potentially cause massive destruction and expose workers and civilians to dangerous levels of radiation that lead to cancerous genetic mutations ...

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.