Producing new neurones under all circumstances: A challenge that is just a mouse away

April 9, 2013, Institut National de la Sante et de la Recherche Medicale

Improving neurone production in elderly persons presenting with a decline in cognition is a major challenge facing an ageing society and the emergence of neuro-degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease. INSERM and CEA researchers recently showed that the pharmacological blocking of the TGFβ molecule improves the production of new neurones in the mouse model.

These results incentivise the development of targeted therapies enabling improved neurone production to alleviate cognitive decline in the elderly and reduce the cerebral lesions caused by radiotherapy.

The research is published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine.

New are formed regularly in the in order to guarantee that all our are maintained. This neurogenesis may be adversely affected in various situations and especially:

  • in the course of ageing,
  • after radiotherapy treatment of a . (The irradiation of certain areas of the brain is, in fact, a central adjunctive therapy for brain tumours in adults and children).

According to certain studies, the reduction in our "stock" of neurones contributes to an irreversible decline in cognition. In the mouse, for example, researchers reported that exposing the brain to radiation in the order of 15 Gy is accompanied by disruption to the olfactive memory and a reduction in neurogenesis. The same happens in ageing in which a reduction in neurogenesis is associated with a loss of certain cognitive faculties. In patients receiving radiotherapy due to the removal of a brain tumour, the same phenomena can be observed.

Researchers are studying how to preserve the "neurone stock". To do this, they have tried to discover which factors are responsible for the decline in neurogenesis.

Contrary to what might have been believed, their initial observations show that neither heavy doses of radiation nor ageing are responsible for the complete disappearance of the capable of producing neurones (and thus the origin of neurogenesis). Those that survive remain localised in a certain small area of the brain (the sub-ventricular zone (SVZ)). They nevertheless appear not to be capable of working correctly.

Additional experiments have made it possible to establish that in both situations, irradiation and ageing, high levels of the cytokine TGFβ cause the stem cells to become dormant, increasing their susceptibility to apoptosis (PCD) and reducing the number of new neurones.

"Our study concluded that although reduced in ageing and after a high dose of radiation, many stem cells survive for several months, retaining their 'stem' characteristics", explains Marc-Andre Mouthon, one of the main authors of the research, that was conducted in conjunction with José Piñeda and François Boussin.

The second part of the project demonstrated that pharmacological blocking of TGFβ restores the production of new neurones in irradiated or ageing mice.

For the researchers, these results will encourage the development of targeted therapies to block TGFβ in order to reduce the impact of brain lesions caused by radiotherapy and improving the production of neurones in the elderly presenting with a .

Explore further: Cell study may aid bid for motor neurone therapies

More information: Vascular-derived TGF-β increases in the stem cell niche and perturbs neurogenesis during aging and following irradiation in the adult mouse brain Jose R. Pineda, Mathieu Daynac, Alexandra Chicheportiche, Arantxa Cebrian-Silla, Karine Sii Felice, Jose Manuel Garcia-Verdugo, François D. Boussin and Marc-Andre Mouthon, EMBO Molecular Medicine, 2013.

Related Stories

Cell study may aid bid for motor neurone therapies

February 28, 2012
The quest for treatments for motor neurone disease, spinal cord injury and strokes could be helped by new research that shows how key cells are produced.

Researchers move closer to delaying dementia

May 10, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Scientists at University of Queensland's Brain Institute are one step closer to developing new therapies for treating dementia.

Want a healthy brain? Scientists say, go for a run

November 28, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—Physical exercise is just as important as cognitive exercise when it comes to maintaining a healthy brain, according to a new University of Queensland study released today.

Recommended for you

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

Secrets of longevity protein revealed in new study

January 17, 2018
Named after the Greek goddess who spun the thread of life, Klotho proteins play an important role in the regulation of longevity and metabolism. In a recent Yale-led study, researchers revealed the three-dimensional structure ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The HLF gene protects blood stem cells by maintaining them in a resting state

January 17, 2018
The HLF gene is necessary for maintaining blood stem cells in a resting state, which is crucial for ensuring normal blood production. This has been shown by a new research study from Lund University in Sweden published in ...

Magnetically applied MicroRNAs could one day help relieve constipation

January 17, 2018
Constipation is an underestimated and debilitating medical issue related to the opioid epidemic. As a growing concern, researchers look to new tools to help patients with this side effect of opioid use and aging.

Researchers devise decoy molecule to block pain where it starts

January 16, 2018
For anyone who has accidentally injured themselves, Dr. Zachary Campbell not only sympathizes, he's developing new ways to blunt pain.

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.