Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researchers Discover Dynamic Behavior Of Progenitor Cells In Brain

10.05.2013
Cells aid in scar formation after injury to central nervous system

By monitoring the behavior of a class of cells in the brains of living mice, neuroscientists at Johns Hopkins discovered that these cells remain highly dynamic in the adult brain, where they transform into cells that insulate nerve fibers and help form scars that aid in tissue repair.


Ethan Hughes and Dwight Bergles

Montage of three images collected at one-week intervals showing an oligodendrocyte precursor cell migrating towards a lesion (white).

Published online April 28 in the journal Nature Neuroscience, their work sheds light on how these multipurpose cells communicate with each other to maintain a highly regular, grid-like distribution throughout the brain and spinal cord. The disappearance of one of these so-called progenitor cells causes a neighbor to quickly divide to form a replacement, ensuring that cell loss and cell addition are kept in balance.

“There is a widely held misconception that the adult nervous system is static or fixed, and has a limited capacity for repair and regeneration,” says Dwight Bergles, Ph.D., professor of neuroscience and otolaryngology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “But we found that these progenitor cells, called oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs), are remarkably dynamic. Unlike most other adult brain cells, they are able to respond to the repair needs around them while maintaining their numbers.”

OPCs can mature to become oligodendrocytes — support cells in the brain and spinal cord responsible for wrapping nerve fibers to create insulation known as myelin. Without myelin, the electrical signals sent by neurons travel poorly and some cells die due to the lack of metabolic support from oligodendrocytes. It is the death of oligodendrocytes and the subsequent loss of myelin that leads to neurological disability in diseases such as multiple sclerosis.

During brain development, OPCs spread throughout the central nervous system and make large numbers of oligodendrocytes. Scientists know that few new oligodendrocytes are born in the healthy adult brain, yet the brain is flush with OPCs. However, the function of OPCs in the adult brain wasn’t clear.

To find out, Bergles and his team genetically modified mice so that their OPCs contained a fluorescent protein along their edges, giving crisp definition to their many fine branches that extend in every direction. Using special microscopes that allow imaging deep inside the brain, the team watched the activity of individual cells in living mice for over a month.

The researchers discovered that, far from being static, the OPCs were continuously moving through the brain tissue, extending their “tentacles” and repositioning themselves. Even though these progenitors are dynamic, each cell maintains its own area by repelling other OPCs when they come in contact.

“The cells seem to sense each other’s presence and know how to control the number of cells in their population,” says Bergles. “It looks like this process goes wrong in multiple sclerosis lesions, where there are reduced numbers of OPCs, a loss that may impair the cells’ ability to sense whether demyelination has occurred. We don’t yet know what molecules are involved in this process, but it’s something we’re actively working on.”

To see if OPCs do more than form new oligodendrocytes in the adult brain, the team tested their response to injury by using a laser to create a small wound in the brain. Surprisingly, OPCs migrated to the injury site and contributed to scar formation, a previously unsuspected role. The empty space in the OPC grid, created by the loss of the scar-forming OPCs, was then filled by cell division of neighboring OPCs, providing an explanation for why brain injury is often accompanied by proliferation of these cells.

“Scar cells are not oligodendrocytes, so the term ‘oligodendrocyte precursor cell’ may now be outdated,” says Bergles. “These cells are likely to have a broader role in tissue regeneration and repair than we thought. Because traumatic brain injuries, multiple sclerosis and other neurodegenerative diseases require tissue regeneration, we are eager to learn more about the functions of these enigmatic cells.”

Other authors of the report include Ethan Hughes, Shin Kang and Masahiro Fukaya of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

This work was supported by grants from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (F32NS076098, NS051509, NS050274) and the Brain Science Institute at The Johns Hopkins University.

Link to article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nn.3390

Video: Interview with Dwight Bergles on the nervous system's progenitor cells: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zhk8mjIaazo

Catherine Kolf | Newswise
Further information:
http://www.jhmi.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A Map of the Cell’s Power Station
18.08.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht On the way to developing a new active ingredient against chronic infections
18.08.2017 | Deutsches Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A Map of the Cell’s Power Station

18.08.2017 | Life Sciences

Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form

18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers printed graphene-like materials with inkjet

18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>