New methods identify and manipulate 'newborn' cells in animal model of Parkinson's disease

Sep 03, 2008

When cells in the brain are lost through disease or injury, neighboring cells begin to divide and multiply, but only a few areas in the brain are able to produce new neurons. Patients with Parkinson's disease suffer degeneration of certain neurons that reside in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra and project into the striatum. Many of the newborn cells in these areas have not been well described because of limitations of methods used to characterize them.

A research team from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute and Lund University in Sweden used an engineered virus to deliver a protein that glows green when exposed to blue light (green fluorescent protein) into newborn cells of the striatum in an animal model (rats) of Parkinson's disease. This revealed that no neurons are formed; most of the cells appear to be glial (structural) cells.

To determine if the newborn cells could be manipulated to generate neurons, the researchers delivered into the cells two genes (neurogenin2 and noggin) that are involved in the genesis of neurons. Neither gene had any effect on the ability of newborn striatal cells to form new neurons, but the insertion of noggin greatly increased the number of oligodendrocytes, cells that support neurons.

Dwain Morris-Irvin, Ph.D., a research scientist at Cedars-Sinai's Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute and Lund University, is available to describe how scientists are using green fluorescent protein and other new approaches in their effort to find cures for Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative brain disorders. Morris-Irvin is the first and corresponding author of a recent cover article in Neurobiology of Disease.

"These results may have great potential for studying the effects of viral gene delivery in the attempt to generate new cells for cell replacement therapy in neurodegenerative diseases or for brain repair after injury," Morris-Irvin said. "The success of a 'self-repair' strategy depends on the continued growth of our understanding of complex signaling patterns governing the development of these newborn cells."

Source: Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Explore further: Startup commercializing innovation to reduce neurotoxin that damages nerve cells, triggers pain

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers create autistic neuron model

Nov 11, 2010

Using induced pluripotent stem cells from patients with Rett syndrome, scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have created functional neurons that provide the first human ...

Recommended for you

Cellular protein may be key to longevity

Sep 15, 2014

Researchers have found that levels of a regulatory protein called ATF4, and the corresponding levels of the molecules whose expression it controls, are elevated in the livers of mice exposed to multiple interventions ...

Gut bacteria tire out T cells

Sep 15, 2014

Leaky intestines may cripple bacteria-fighting immune cells in patients with a rare hereditary disease, according to a study by researchers in Lausanne, Switzerland. The study, published in The Journal of Experimental Me ...

T-bet tackles hepatitis

Sep 15, 2014

A single protein may tip the balance between ridding the body of a dangerous virus and enduring life-long chronic infection, according to a report appearing in The Journal of Experimental Medicine.

User comments : 0