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

ids, and how they function in NPCs, is still undetermined.

The researchers then developed a signal processing method that allowed them to separate the marker from other signals in the living brain. They transplanted NPCs into the cortex of the adult rat brain and found that they could clearly detect the marker in the area where the NPCs were injected. They also found that it increased after stimulation.

Finally, the investigators tested their MRS imaging technique in healthy people. They found major differences in the concentration of the marker between the hippocampus and the cortex. They also imaged the brains of pre-adolescents, adolescents, and adults and found that the marker decreased with age.

The findings suggest that the marker identified in these experiments can be used to detect NPCs and neurogenesis in the live human brain using MRS. They also show that NPCs decrease during brain development. Previous research had shown that neurogenesis decreases with age in animals, but this is the first study to demonstrate that it also decreases in the living human brain.

"This study identifies a novel biomarker and shows that we can use it to see progenitor cells in the live brain," Dr. Enikolopov says. "This protocol can now be used to study a variety of problems." For example, researchers might study people with depression to see if neurogenesis correlates with alterations in depression or schizophrenia. The technique might also be used to study changes that occur in neurological diseases such as traumatic brain injury, stroke, epilepsy, and Parkinson's disease. It might even be useful for detecting cancer, because researchers believe some brain tumors are associated with aberrant proliferation of NPCs, Dr. Enikolopov adds.

The researchers are now planning studies that will test the usefulness of the new imaging technique in people with disease. They also hope to improve their understanding of how the lipi
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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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