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A new program for neural stem cells
Date:5/12/2011

This release is available in German.

Neural stem cells can do a lot, but not everything. For example, brain and spinal cord cells are not usually generated by neural stem cells of the peripheral nervous system, and it is not possible to produce cells of the peripheral nervous system from the stem cells of the brain. However, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research in Frankfurt and the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg have now succeeded in producing central nervous system cells from neural stem cells of the peripheral nervous system. They found that if peripheral stem cells are maintained under defined growth conditions, they generate oligodendrocytes, which form the myelin layer that surrounds the neurons found in the brain and spinal cord.

The mammalian nervous system consists of a central (brain, spinal cord) and peripheral nervous system (e.g. nerves and sensory ganglia). Although the two systems are very closely interlinked, they differ anatomically and consist of different cell types. The cell types of the peripheral nervous system originate from precursor cells in the embryo called the neural crest. To date, it was believed that these neural crest stem cells could generate the neurons and support cells, known as glial cells, of the peripheral nervous system, but not the cells of the central nervous system.

Environmental conditions clearly determine the kind of cells into which the neural crest stem cells develop. Together with colleagues from Paris, the Freiburg- and Frankfurt-based scientists succeeded in demonstrating that, under modified conditions, these stem cells can also generate cells of the central nervous system. They exposed stem cells from the peripheral nervous system of embryonic or postnatal mice to different culture conditions. In addition to neurons, the neural crest
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Contact: Professor Hermann Rohrer
Hermann.Rohrer@brain.mpg.de
49-699-676-9319
Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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