Signal blocks stem cell division in the geriatric brain
After studying the activity of stem cells in the brains of mice, researchers in Basel have identified a key mechanism that controls the proliferation of cells. The research team was led by the Department of Biomedicine at the University of Basel’s Professor, Verdon Taylor. According to a report the team published in Cell Reports, they found that the gene regulator Id4 controls whether stem cells begin cell division or continue in a state of rest. This could have a significant impact in regards to how we treat neurodegenerative diseases in the human brain.
For years, there has been controversy surrounding whether stem cells occur in the human brain. Currently, it is believed that the brain is able to create new neurons throughout life. Researchers have found that the stem cells responsible for this process are limited to certain areas of the brain. These so-called niches deliver key signals that regulate the differentiation and self-renewal of stem cells.
Cell Division is Inhibited by a Hyperactive Signaling Pathway
Until recently, researchers have not understood why stem cells in the aged and in the adult brain lapse into a resting state. While investigating the so-called Notch signaling pathway that plays a crucial role in the regulation of stem cell activity in the brain, Dr. Taylor and his team discovered what factors prevent stem cells from entering into the process of cell division.
According to a published report, the study found that the Notch2 signaling pathways are responsible for controlling the expression of Id4, a specific transcription regulator. After it is expressed, Id4 impedes the stem cell division and obstructs the production of new neurons in the adult brain’s hippocampus. In some neural stem cells, Notch2 signaling sustains high levels of Id4. This explains why these stem cells often go into a state of rest in the geriatric and adult brain.
The Notch2-Id4 pathway moves into a hyperactive state as the brain ages, presenting a strong molecular brake. The brake stops the production of neurons and the activation of stem cells. If this pathway is inactive, the brake is released, allowing for new neuron production. This is the case even in geriatric mice’s brains.
The Resting State Reversed
Results indicate that in the mammalian brain, stem cells are in a reversible resting state that is regulated by factors and signals in the niche.
The study offers significant insight into the basic mechanisms of neurogenesis in the brain of adult mice. The Notch pathway occurs in most organisms and is widespread, giving researchers hope that this finding can be transferred to humans. This could allow for brain damage resulting from neuropsychiatric and degenerative disease to be repaired in the future.
To your health,
The Healing Miracle Team
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