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Inflammation triggers cell fusions that could protect neurons, Stanford research shows
Date:4/20/2008

gineered to express a green fluorescent protein. The new blood stem cells would then entirely repopulate the animal's now-absent hematopoietic system with green-fluorescing cells whose origin could be easily identified. The researchers could then pick out heterokaryons in the brain by looking for green neurons against a neutral background.

The researchers, in collaboration with scientists at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, used this technique in the current study to transplant a single hematopoietic stem cell and prove that the heterokaryons in the brain were derived from blood. However, because such high doses of radiation are known to break down the natural barrier that restricts the flow of cells and molecules between the brain and the blood, Blau and her colleagues wondered if this fusion would still occur under less physiologically traumatic conditions.

They used a technique called parabiosis to introduce blood cells expressing green fluorescent protein into an unmodified animal. In parabiosis, two mice are surgically joined in such a way that they share a circulatory system. One mouse had been engineered to express the green protein in all its cells, and one had not. Because the animals shared a blood supply for several weeks, about half of the blood cells in the unmodified mouse expressed the green protein-enough to enable the researchers to detect fused cells in the brain.

The researchers found evidence of fusion between blood cells and Purkinje neurons in this radiation-free system 20 to 26 weeks after surgery. In fact, green heterokaryons were identifiable for up to 20 weeks after the mice were separated, when most of the blood cells in the unmodified mouse had been regenerated as non-colored cells.

But then Johansson saw something surprising. As in previous experiments, most of the mice had very low numbers of fused cells in their cerebellums, but a few had more. Up to 100 times more.

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Contact: Mitzi Baker
mabaker@stanford.edu
650-725-2106
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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