NOV 07, 2016 5:54 PM PST

Blood Vessels Regulate Growth of the Rodent Brain

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch
New neurons in the brain of adult rodents are regulated by the blood vessels that are associated with them. Research that was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists by researchers at University College London (UCL) has demonstrated that blood vessels are able to increase the amount of neural stem cells that an organism has, using mice as a model. This work could help improve the development of therapeutics that use stem cells as a way to regenerate parts of the nervous system that have become damaged or are diseased.
 
Multipotential Human Neural Progenitor Cells / Credit: NIH
 
Neural stem cells of the developing rodent brain perform self-renewal and also produce cells that are destined to become neurons. The stem cells receive direction as to how frequently they reproduce and what cell type they create. The signals that send those directions have been unclear, however. This new work shows how important blood vessels are in this process.
 
"We found that blood vessels play a vital role in telling neural stem cells when and how to reproduce," explained the lead author of the work, Mathew Tata of the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology. "We examined neural stem cell behaviour in the brainstem of mice lacking the blood vessel protein NRP1, because this part of the brain is particularly important to control fundamental processes such as breathing and heart rate.”
 
The researchers used genetically altered mice in their work. “Preventing blood vessel growth in the neurogenic areas of the brainstem interfered with normal neuron production, causing neural stem cells to lose their ability to reproduce. As a result the stem cells disappeared from the brainstem before its growth was complete, so mice lacking NRP1 ended up with smaller brainstems," said Tata.
 
The investigators have shown that blood vessels play critical roles not only in supplying the developing brain with oxygen, but also in stem cell signaling and how stem cells are regulated.
 
"Blood vessels are best known for their important function in supplying oxygen and nutrients to the brain," said senior author Christiana Ruhrberg, also of the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology. "However, the most intriguing finding of this study was that blood vessels did not regulate neural stem cell behavior in the brainstem simply through their role in brain oxygenation or keeping brain tissue healthy. We found that blood vessels also provide important signals that allow stem cells to reproduce for a longer period of time, before they permanently become nerve cells that cannot multiply."
 
Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! via UCL News, PNAS
 
About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
DEC 09, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
DEC 09, 2019
Could the diabetic drug 'metformin' extend a healthy lifespan?
The most commonly prescribed diabetic medication for the Type 2 condition is ‘Metformin’—a drug with a mysterious mechanism of action but...
DEC 10, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 10, 2019
The Fallout From the CRISPR Infant Experiment Continues
Last year, Chinese scientist He Jiankui caused tremendous controversy in the scientific world by conducting a gene-editing experiment on humans....
DEC 22, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 22, 2019
Functional Mini-Livers Made With New Bioprinting Technique
This technique, could be useful in the production of complete organs that can be transplanted into patients....
DEC 23, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 23, 2019
A New Type of Muscle Cell That Could be a Target for Gene Therapy is ID'ed
Muscles have a supply of restorative stem cells called satellite cells, and now they have identified a new type....
JAN 16, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
JAN 16, 2020
Understanding the Restorative Power of Sleep
Scientists have learned more about how sleep gets us ready to face the challenges of the day....
FEB 09, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
FEB 09, 2020
Mosquitoes are Driven to Search for Heat in the Hunt for Meals
Mosquitoes can be dangerous disease vectors, and they infect and kill hundreds of thousands of people with illnesses like dengue, malaria, and West Nile Virus....
Loading Comments...