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Stem cells take cues from fluid in the brain
Date:3/11/2011

sulin-like growth factor or Igf2, which is known to help stem cells multiply and differentiate. Notably, the protein isn't elevated after birth. When the authors blocked Igf2, stem cells in the brain stopped making brain cells, which resulted in abnormally tiny mice brains. And when the team placed brain stem cells in a dish filled with Igf2-rich, embryonic cerebrospinal fluid, the cells proliferated rapidly. "This was clearly the environment the stem cells needed to be happy," LaMantia explains.

Brain cell proliferation is only a good thing when the time is right, however. After all, unrestrained cell multiplication leads to tumors. According to this report, Igf2 knows it's time to activate in the fluid because of proteins in long cells that surround the fluid. These long glial cells stretch from the inner part of the brain, where the fluid is, to its outer layer. They form early in brain development, and younger brain cells crawl along them during development as they find their appropriate positions like patrons filing into an opera house. At the innermost-end of the cells, at a spot called the apical domain, two proteins regulate Igf2 by altering other proteins at the surface of the glial cells, which bind to Ifg2.

If one of the steps in this pathway goes awry, Ifg2 could be activated at the wrong time causing uncontrolled proliferation. Indeed, brain cancer patients with the worst prognosis appear to have the highest levels of Igf2.

However, the fact that vital signals are sent from cerebrospinal fluid could be good news for cancer patients. "It's difficult to deliver a drug that will influence a specific spot within the brain tissue," says LaMantia. Instead, clinicians might one day infuse brain fluid with medicine possibly one that blocks the signals from Igf2 telling cells to proliferate. "The possibilities for using the fluid as an efficient mechanism to deliver small molecule drugs are endless," he says.

Stem cell researchers now have ano
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Contact: Anne Banner
abanner@gwumc.edu
202-994-2261
George Washington University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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