New human neurons from adult cells right there in the brain

October 4, 2012

Researchers have discovered a way to generate new human neurons from another type of adult cell found in our brains. The discovery, reported in the October 5th issue of Cell Stem Cell, a Cell Press publication, is one step toward cell-based therapies for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

"This work aims at converting cells that are present throughout the brain but themselves are not nerve cells into neurons," said Benedikt Berninger, now at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. "The ultimate goal we have in mind is that this may one day enable us to induce such conversion within the brain itself and thus provide a novel strategy for repairing the injured or diseased brain."

The cells that made the leap from one identity to another are known as pericytes. Those cells, found in close association with the blood vessels, are important for keeping the blood-brain barrier intact and have been shown to participate in in other parts of the body.

This is a direct observation of neuronal reprogramming of PDGFR-sorted pericyte-derived cells from the adult human brain by continuous live imaging in culture. Note the change in morphology of a cell coexpressing Sox2 and Mash1 (blue arrow) during reprogramming. Postimaging immunocytochemistry for III-tubulin (white) confirms the neuronal identity of the reprogrammed cell at the end of live imaging. Credit: Cell Stem Cell, a Cell Press Journal, Karow et al.

"Now, we reason, if we could target these cells and entice them to make , we could take advantage of this injury response," Berninger says.

Further testing showed that those newly converted neurons could produce and reach out to other neurons, providing evidence that the converted cells could integrate into neural networks.

"While much needs to be learnt about adapting a direct neuronal reprogramming strategy to meaningful repair in vivo, our data provide strong support for the notion that neuronal reprogramming of cells of pericytic origin within the damaged brain may become a viable approach to replace degenerated neurons," the researchers write.

Explore further: Astrocytes control the generation of new neurons from neural stem cells

More information: Karow et al.: "Reprogramming of pericyte-derived cells of the adult human brain into induced neuronal cells." DOI: 10.1016/j.stem.2012.07.007

Related Stories

Astrocytes control the generation of new neurons from neural stem cells

August 24, 2012
Astrocytes are cells that have many functions in the central nervous system, such as the control of neuronal synapses, blood flow, or the brain's response to neurotrauma or stroke.

Naturally produced protein could boost brain repair

January 10, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Scientists from the Medical Research Council (MRC) have discovered that a protein produced by blood vessels in the brain could be used to help the brain repair itself after injury or disease.

Recommended for you

Intermittent fasting found to increase cognitive functions in mice

December 12, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—The Daily Mail spoke with the leader of a team of researchers with the National Institute on Aging in the U.S. and reports that they have found that putting mice on a diet consisting of eating nothing every ...

Neuroscientists show deep brain waves occur more often during navigation and memory formation

December 12, 2017
UCLA neuroscientists are the first to show that rhythmic waves in the brain called theta oscillations happen more often when someone is navigating an unfamiliar environment, and that the more quickly a person moves, the more ...

How Zika virus induces congenital microcephaly

December 12, 2017
Epidemiological studies show that in utero fetal infection with the Zika virus (ZIKV) may lead to microcephaly, an irreversible congenital malformation of the brain characterized by an incomplete development of the cerebral ...

Presurgical imaging may predict whether epilepsy surgery will work

December 11, 2017
Surgery to remove a part of the brain to give relief to patients with epilepsy doesn't always result in complete seizure relief, but statisticians at Rice University have developed a method for integrating neuroimaging scans ...

Selecting sounds: How the brain knows what to listen to

December 11, 2017
How is it that we are able—without any noticeable effort—to listen to a friend talk in a crowded café or follow the melody of a violin within an orchestra?

Updated brain cell map connects various brain diseases to specific cell types

December 11, 2017
Researchers have developed new single-cell sequencing methods that could be used to map the cell origins of various brain disorders, including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

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.