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Cerebral spinal fluid guides stem cell development in the brain
Date:3/9/2011

d the first comprehensive analysis of embryonic human CSF. They found it holds hundreds of different proteins that are involved in a variety of tasks, including cell growth, transport, support, and signaling. "We were amazed at the diversity of substances that we identified in there, many of which people had no clue would be there," Walsh says.

In the new study, the researchers took small pieces of embryonic rat brain tissue and, using a thin platinum wire, deftly moved them onto culture plates made up of CSF from rats of different ages. They found that when brain stem cells bathe in CSF from young rats, they furiously divide. In contrast, when grown on CSF from older rats, there is less cell division, but CSF from all ages contains all that is needed to maintain brain stem cells in a dish. Subsequent analysis of the fluid showed that the amount of a protein called Insulin-like growth factor 2 (Igf2) strongly correlates with the level of cell division.

The researchers then teamed up with a group of scientists from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center that has a unique collection of CSF samples isolated from people with various stages of glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer in which tumors infiltrate the whole brain. The Beth Israel Deaconess group, led by Eric Wong, found that people with more advanced cancer have higher levels of Igf2 in CSF than do those with less severe forms of the disease.

The scientists don't know whether the increase in Igf2 levels is partly causing the cancer, or is instead a consequence of living with the disease. "We certainly don't think Igf2 is the only contributor to the pathology, because glioblastomas are very complex. But it may be an interesting biomarker to consider," says Maria Lehtinen, who is a joint first author of the study, along with Zappaterra.

Taking a closer look at CSF could be helpful in other brain diseases as well. Some researchers are investigating whether the levels of certain pro
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Contact: Jim Keeley
keeleyj@hhmi.org
301-215-8858
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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