Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Cells From Fat Tissue Turned Into Functional Nerve Cells

01.06.2004


Two years after transforming human fat cells into what appeared to be nerve cells, a group led by Duke University Medical Center researchers has gone one step further by demonstrating that these new cells also appear to act like nerve cells.


Henry Rice, M.D., and Kristine Safford
CREDIT: Duke University Medical Center



The team said that the results of its latest experiments provide the most compelling scientific evidence to date that researchers will in the future be able to take cells from a practically limitless source -- fat -- and retrain them to differentiate along new developmental paths. These cells, they said, could then be used to possibly treat a number of human ailments of the central and peripheral nervous systems.

The results of the team’s latest experiments were published June 1, 2004, in the journal Experimental Neurology.


Using a cocktail of growth factors and induction agents, the researchers transformed cells isolated from mouse fat, also known as adipose tissue, into two important nerve cell types: neurons and glial cells. Neurons carry electrical signals from cell to cell, while glial cells surround neurons like a sheath.

"We have demonstrated that within fat tissue there is a population of stromal cells that can differentiate into different types of cells with many of the characteristics of neuronal and glial cells," said Duke’s Kristine Safford, first author of the paper. "These findings support more research into developing adipose tissue as a viable source for cellular-based therapies."

Over the past several years, Duke scientists have demonstrated the ability to reprogram these adipose-derived adult stromal cells into fat, cartilage and bone cells. All of these cells arise from mesenchymal, or connective tissue, parentage. However, the latest experiments have demonstrated that researchers can transform these cells from fat into a totally different lineage.

Earlier this year, Duke researchers demonstrated that these adipose-derived cells are truly adult stem cells. As a source of cells for treatment, adipose tissue is not only limitless, it does not carry the potentially charged ethical or political concerns as other stem cell sources, the researchers said.

"This is a big step to take undifferentiated cells that haven’t committed to a particular future and redirect them to develop down a different path," said Duke surgeon Henry Rice, M.D., senior member of the research team. "Results such as these challenge the traditional dogma that once cells become a certain type of tissue they are locked into that destiny. While it appears that we have awakened a new pathway of development, the exact trigger for this change is still not known."

For their latest experiments, the researchers demonstrated that the newly transformed adipose cells expressed many similar cellular proteins as normal nerve and glial cells. Furthermore, they showed that the function of these cells is similar to nerves.

They exposed these newly formed cells to N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), an agent which blocks the activity of the neurotransmitter glutamate and is toxic to nerve cells. In response to NMDA, the newly induced cells died, a response similar to normal nerve cells under the same conditions. Physiologic insults -- such as stroke -- can stimulate NMDA receptors on nerve cells, which can cause nerve cell damage or death by over-stimulating them.

"We found that these induced adipose cells demonstrated an excitotoxic response to NMDA that corresponded with a loss of cell viability, which suggests that these induced cells had formed functional NMDA receptors similar to those found on nerve cells," Rice explained. "Recent studies have demonstrated that NMDA receptor activation by glutamate may induce early gene transcription in developing neurons as well as determine the rate of neuronal proliferation in the brain. Our findings suggest that these induced cells exhibit characteristics similar to developing neuronal tissue."

Now that the researchers are confident that these newly induced cells appear to have similar functions as nerve cells, the next step will be to see how they respond when they are implanted a living animal model.

"While this is an important step forward, we still face many challenges to making use of these cells to treat human problems," said longtime collaborator Jeffrey Gimble, M.D., Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University System. "It seems probable that the potential first uses of such therapy would be in an acute setting, where you would have a window of opportunity right after a stroke, or spinal cord or peripheral nerve injury."

Until recently, it was believed that organisms were born with the full complement of neuronal cells, and that new neurons could not be formed. According to the researchers, the findings of their studies, as well as the experiments performed by others on bone marrow stem cells, opens up new possibilities for the treatment of nervous system disorders or injuries.

"We are trying to think about human disease in a new way," Gimble said. "Everyone is used to the concept of surgical, medical or pharmacological approaches to the treatment of disease -- we’re looking at one of the next steps in biotechnology, which is using cellular therapies."

The current research was supported by the Owen H. Wangenstein, M.D., Faculty Research Fellowship of the American College of Surgeons. Other members of the Duke team included Shawn Safford, M.D., and Ashok Shetty, Ph.D.

Richard Merritt | dukemed news
Further information:
http://dukemednews.org/news/article.php?id=7625

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Cystic fibrosis alters the structure of mucus in airways
29.06.2017 | University of Iowa Health Care

nachricht Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders
28.06.2017 | University of California - Davis

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making Waves

Computer scientists use wave packet theory to develop realistic, detailed water wave simulations in real time. Their results will be presented at this year’s SIGGRAPH conference.

Think about the last time you were at a lake, river, or the ocean. Remember the ripples of the water, the waves crashing against the rocks, the wake following...

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Nanostructures taste the rainbow

29.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technique unveils 'matrix' inside tissues and tumors

29.06.2017 | Life Sciences

Cystic fibrosis alters the structure of mucus in airways

29.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>