19 May 2015

Embryonic neurons can rejuvenate the brain

Experts have long known that it is almost impossible to change the contacts between the nerve cells of the adult brain, whereas in children during periods of active development, the brain quickly reacts to new impressions by forming new interneuronal contacts.

In experiments on mice, researchers at the University of California at Irvine, working under the leadership of Sunil Gandhi, managed to restore similar plasticity in the brains of adult animals. In other words, they launched a new period of increased plasticity in the brain, which provides the opportunity to make significant changes to the already formed interneuronal contacts.

To do this, they transplanted embryonic neurons of a certain type into the brain tissue of adult mice, the characteristic difference of which is the expression of GABA (GABA), the main inhibitory neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of motor, visual and other body functions controlled by the cerebral cortex.

In the early stages of life, good vision is necessary for the full formation of interneuronal contacts of the visual system of the brain. Visual disturbances during this period lead to the development of long-term visual impairment or amblyopia. In order to restore normal vision in mice with amblyopia, researchers transplanted embryonic GABA neurons into the visual cortex of such animals. A few weeks after transplantation – during the supposed critical period of the formation of the visual system of donor animals - the visual acuity of recipient mice recovered to normal levels.

The obtained results give hope that transplantation of GABA-expressing neurons may eventually find a fairly wide application in clinical practice. In addition to restoring brain functions lost as a result of injuries, this approach can theoretically be used in the treatment of currently incurable brain diseases, including those characterized by developmental disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.

Article by Melissa F. Davis et al. Inhibitory Neuron Transplantation into Adult Visual Cortex Creates a New Critical Period that Rescues Impacted Vision published in the journal Neuron.

Evgeniya Ryabtseva
Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru based on the materials of the University of California, Irvine:
UCI neurobiologists restore youthful vigor to adult brains.


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