Navigation Links
Scientists find link in humans between nerve cell production, memory
Date:8/26/2010

Production of new nerve cells in the human brain is linked to learning and memory, according to a new study from the University of Florida. The research is the first to show such a link in humans. The findings, published online and in an upcoming print issue of the journal Brain, provide clues about processes involved in age- and health-related memory loss and reveal potential cellular targets for drug therapy.

The researchers studied how stem cells in a memory-related region of the brain, called the hippocampus, proliferate and change into different types of nerve cells. Scientists have been unsure of the significance of that process in humans.

"The findings suggest that if we can increase the regeneration of nerve cells in the hippocampus we can alleviate or prevent memory loss in humans," said Florian Siebzehnrubl, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher in neuroscience in the UF College of Medicine, and co-first author of the study. "This process gives us what pharmacologists call a 'druggable target.'"

Over the past two decades, several studies have shown that new nerve cells are generated in the hippocampus. In animal studies, disrupting nerve cell generation resulted in the loss of memory function, while increasing the production of new nerve cells led to improved memory.

To investigate whether the same is true in humans, the UF researchers, in collaboration with colleagues in Germany, studied 23 patients who had epilepsy and varying degrees of associated memory loss. They analyzed stem cells from brain tissue removed during epilepsy surgery, and evaluated the patients' pre-surgery memory function.

In patients with low memory test scores, stem cells could not generate new nerve cells in laboratory cultures, but in patients with normal memory scores, stem cells were able to proliferate. That showed, for the first time, a clear correlation between patient's memory and the ability of their stem cells to generate new nerve cells.

"It is interesting and provocative, but we need to do more work because it's not clear what comes first the severe epilepsy or the change in the stem cells," said Jack Parent, M.D., an associate professor of neurology and co-director of the EEG/Epilepsy Program at the University of Michigan, who was not involved in the study. "It was really interesting to correlate stem cell activity in tissue culture with the response of the patients."

The work is potentially applicable beyond epilepsy, but first more studies have to be done with larger numbers of patients and more detailed testing of related brain structures and function, the researchers said. In addition, researchers still need to figure out how exactly the newly generated nerve cells contribute to learning and memory.

"The study gives us insights on how to approach the problem of cognitive aging and age-related memory loss, with the hope of developing therapies that can improve cognitive health in the aging," said J. Lee Dockery, M.D., a trustee of the McKnight Brain Research Foundation, which has teamed with the National Institute on Aging to promote research on age-related memory loss.

Scientists are continuing to try to understand just what activates nerve cell production in the brain, and already have begun investigating compounds that might play a role. Animal studies point to a range of possible triggers, but it is difficult to know which are important and which are minor, the researchers said. Because of that, they said, efforts to determine relevant pathways and how to switch them on will be crucial. Noninvasive imaging techniques such as fMRI and PET can help reveal how the process unfolds over time.

"Probably everyone will experience some degree of age-related memory loss as a result of the normal aging process," said Dennis A. Steindler, Ph.D., the executive director of UF's McKnight Brain Institute and one of the study's senior authors. "There is no reason to believe that this is irreversible, and we must find new approaches and therapeutics for allowing everyone to experience productivity and lifelong memory and learning. Facilitating the generation of new functional neurons in our brains throughout life may be one such approach for helping this cause."


'/>"/>

Contact: Czerne M. Reid
czerne@ufl.edu
352-273-5814
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Scientists Dismayed by Stem Cell Research Ruling
2. Scientists closer to finding what causes the birth of a fat cell
3. Scientists map epigenetic changes during blood cell differentiation
4. Scientists receive nearly $11 million to develop radiation countermeasures
5. Chemical system in brain behaves differently in cocaine addicts, UT Southwestern scientists find
6. Scientists Unravel Secrets of Sound Sleep
7. Scientists develop the first model for investigating the origins of testicular cancer in humans
8. Scientists develop designer protein, opening new door in cancer research
9. Scientists unravel human-ecosystem interactions
10. UCSD scientists find gas pedal -- and brake -- for uncontrolled cell growth
11. UCLA scientists for the first time identify a cell-of-origin for human prostate cancer
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... People across the U.S. are sharpening ... Talker Award, an essay contest in which patients and their families pay tribute to ... at the 2016 National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) Annual Education Conference (AEC) this ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... is proud to recognize Dr. Barry M. Weintraub as a prominent plastic surgeon ... beautiful women in the world, and the most handsome men, look naturally attractive. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... ... feeding the Frederick area economy by obtaining investment capital for emerging technology companies. ... 2½ years that have already resulted in more than a million dollars of ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Venture Construction Group (VCG) ... held on June 20th at the Woodmont Country Club at 1201 Rockville Pike, Rockville, ... dedicated to helping service members that have been wounded in battle and their families. ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... June 24, 2016 , ... Advanced Plastic ... Miss Arizona pageant as its official Medspa Sponsor. Dr. Josh Olson, a board-certified ... Arizona. , Dr. Olson says the decision to support the pageant in ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 Research and Markets ... Issue 52" report to their offering. ... treatment creates a favourable commercial environment for MedImmune to enter. ... base that will serve to drive considerable growth for effective ... serve to cap sales considerably, but development is still in ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... and BOGOTA, Colombia , June 23, 2016  Astellas today announced the establishment of Astellas Farma ... as the company,s second affiliate in Latin America . ... ... Astellas Farma Colombia ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... 2016 Research and Markets has ... Global Analysis (United States, China, Japan, Brazil, United Kingdom, ... their offering. Surgical ... business planners, provides surgical procedure volume data in a ... an in-depth analysis of growth drivers and inhibitors, including ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: