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Imaging neural progenitor cells in the living human brain
Date:11/8/2007

ique that can be used to detect proteins and other compounds normally present in body fluids or tissues. The study results are published in the November 9, 2007, issue of Science.*

Previously developed techniques using positron emission tomography and other types of brain imaging allow investigators to identify NPCs in animals. However, those techniques require pre-labeling the cells with radioactive agents or magnetic nanoparticles strategies that are not practical in people. In the new study, the researchers identified an innate property of NPCs that can be detected by MRS. This enables them to image NPCs without introducing drugs or other agents.

The researchers used a technique related to MRS to compare the signals of NPCs from embryonic mice to those of neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. Astrocytes and oligodendrocytes are non-neuronal cells that are very common in the brain. The investigators found that NPCs showed a specific signal, or marker, that was not as common in other cell types.

Next, the researchers studied NPCs at various points as they differentiated into other cell types in the laboratory. The level of the NPC signal decreased over time, while the levels of other markers common in neurons and astrocytes rose. The newly identified marker was more common in brain cells from embryonic mice than in those from adult mice. It also was more common in cells from the mouse hippocampus, a region where neurogenesis occurs constantly, than in cells from the brain's cortex, where new neurons are not normally formed.

Dr. Maletic-Savatic, Dr. Enikolopov and their colleagues then gave adult mice a form of electrical stimulation that increases the amount of neurogenesis in the brain. They found that the marker they had identified increased significantly after the stimulation. Additional results indicated that the marker is probably a mixture of lipids (fatty acids), although the exact identity of the lip
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Contact: Natalie Frazin or Paul Girolami
301-496-5924
NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
Source:Eurekalert

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