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A new role for neurogenesis

21.01.2020

Neural stem cells involved in regeneration, not just learning and memory

The ability to create new neurons may exist as built-in protection for sensitive brain areas, according to research in mice recently published in JNeurosci.


Over-expression of VEGF damages the dentate gyrus (center). The damage is repaired once the over-expression is turned off (right).

Credit: Licht et al., JNeurosci 2020

For a quarter of a century, scientists have known that the brain creates new neurons even into adulthood - a process called adult neurogenesis. The question has been: why? Adult neurogenesis occurs in the dentate gyrus, a brain region involved in memory, but which is also susceptible to damage in the early stages of epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease. Much research has focused on how adult neurogenesis affects learning and memory, but new research suggests an additional role: regeneration.

Licht et al. tested this by exposing the brains of mice to a high level of VEGF, a blood vessel growth protein that can become toxic to the dentate gyrus, for three months. The team then monitored how the dentate gyrus recovered. Within a few months, it had almost fully repaired itself through the activity of adult neural stem cells. The restored dentate gyri displayed similar size, connectivity, and activity to unharmed dentate gyri. The regenerative function of neurogenesis suggests the process may exist as a built-in brain repair system, akin to stem cells in skin and bone marrow.

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Manuscript title: Age-Dependent Remarkable Regenerative Potential of the Dentate Gyrus Provided by Intrinsic Stem Cells

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About JNeurosci

JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today, the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact, while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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Calli McMurray | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1010-19.2019

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