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Cellular Cues Identified for Stroke Recovery

When a stroke strikes, the supply of blood to the part of the brain affected is interrupted, starving it of oxygen. Brain cells can be seriously damaged or die, impairing local brain function. //

But the brain is a battler. Within weeks of a stroke, new blood vessels begin to form, and, like marching ants, newly born neurons migrate long distances to the damaged area to aid the regeneration process. What’s not known is what the right cellular environment is, and what the cellular cues are for this process of regeneration and migration to take place.

Now, in the Journal of Neuroscience, currently online, S. Thomas Carmichael, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology at the UCLA Geffen School of Medicine, and colleagues report that in the mouse model, this neuron march is the direct result of signaling from the newly blooming blood vessels, thus casually linking angiogenesis the development of new blood vessels and neurogenesis, the birth of new neurons. Further, they have identified what these molecular signals are. The results hold promise for eventual clinical applications that may spur brain repair after stroke.

Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability, said Carmichael. And while much is known about the mechanisms of cell death in stroke, little is known about the mechanisms of neurological recovery after a stroke. His lab studies the mechanisms of brain repair and the recovery of function after a stroke.

Recent research has revealed that in the adult brain, new neurons form in a region of the forebrain known as the subventricular zone (SVZ). In mice, after a stroke was initiated in a part of the brain located far from the SVZ, the researchers, using a combination of mitotic, genetic, and viral labeling, tracked newly formed neuroblasts (immature brain cells from which mature adult neurons form) as they traveled through healthy brain tissue to the stroke area. Once there, these i
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