Irvine, Calif., July 24, 2008 Adult stem cells originate in a different part of the brain than is commonly believed, and with proper stimulation they can produce new brain cells to replace those lost to disease or injury, a study by UC Irvine scientists has shown.
Evidence strongly shows that the true stem cells in the mammalian brain are the ependymal cells that line the ventricles in the brain and spinal cord, rather than cells in the subventricular zone as biologists previously believed. Brain ventricles are hollow chambers filled with fluid that supports brain tissue, and a layer of ependymal cells lines these ventricles.
Knowing the cell source is crucial when developing stem cell-based therapies. Additionally, knowing that these normally dormant cells can be coaxed into dividing lays the groundwork for future therapies in which a patient's own stem cells produce new brain cells to treat neurological disorders and injuries such as Parkinson's disease, stroke or traumatic brain injury.
"With such a therapy, we would know which cells in the body to target for activation, and their offspring would have all the properties necessary to replace damaged or missing cells," said Darius Gleason, lead author of the study and a graduate student in the Department of Developmental and Cell Biology. "It is a very promising approach to stem cell therapy."
Study results appear this month online in the journal Neuroscience.
Stem cells are the "master cells" that produce each of the specialized cells within the human body. If researchers could control the production and differentiation of stem cells, they may be able to use them to replace damaged tissues.
One focus of stem cell research is transplantation, which entails injecting into the body healthy cells that may or may not genetically match the patient. Transplantation of nonmatching stem cells requires the use of drugs to prevent the body from rejecting
|Contact: Jennifer Fitzenberger|
University of California - Irvine