Study identifies natural process activating brain’s immune cells that could point way to repairing damaged brain
The brain’s key “breeder” cells, it turns out, do more than that. They secrete substances that boost the numbers and strength of critical brain-based immune cells believed to play a vital role in brain health. This finding adds a new dimension to our understanding of how resident stem cells and stem cell transplants may improve brain function.
Many researchers believe that these cells may be able to regenerate damaged brain tissue by integrating into circuits that have been eroded by neurodegenerative disease or destroyed by injury. But new findings by scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine suggest that another process, which has not been fully appreciated, could be a part of the equation as well. The findings appear in a study published online Oct. 21 in Nature Neuroscience.
“Transplanting neural stem cells into experimental animals’ brains shows signs of being able to speed recovery from stroke and possibly neurodegenerative disease as well,” said Tony Wyss-Coray, PhD, professor of neurology and neurological sciences in the medical school and senior research scientist at the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System. “Why this technique works is far from clear, though, because actually neural stem cells don’t engraft well.”