Menu

New Cell Type Discovered in Human Brains

Rosehip neurons are not found in rodents. Perhaps they offer clues about what separates our brains from those of other animals.

Aug 28, 2018
Catherine Offord

ABOVE: Digital reconstruction of a rosehip neuron
TAMAS LAB, UNIVERSITY OF SZEGED

Researchers have discovered a new type of inhibitory neuron present in human, but not mouse, brains. So-called rosehip neurons, described yesterday (August 27) in Nature Neuroscience, have an unusually bushy appearance, express a particular set of human genes not found in mice, and could help provide insights into what distinguishes our brains from those of other animals.

“Finding cell types that are uniquely human . . . helps our understanding of the physiological differences that under[lie] our higher cognitive abilities and may better inform upon treatment strategies for brain-related disorders,” Blue Lake, an assistant project scientist in bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego, who was not part of the study, tells Live Science.

Two research groups—one in Hungary and the other in the USA—independently found the cells during studies of the human brain cortex. They then worked together to describe the new cell type using microscopy and genetic approaches. “It’s very bushy,” study coauthor Trygve Bakken of the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle tells Live Science. The cell’s dendrites are “very compact with lots of branch points, so it kind of looks a little bit like a rosehip”—the bulbous fruit left behind when a rose’s petals fall.

Using transcriptomic analyses to probe the cells’ gene expression, the researchers found that rosehip neurons switch on a set of genes that have so far been found in humans but not in mice. “It’s too early to say that this is a completely unique cell type because [beyond humans and mice] we haven’t looked in other species yet,” study coauthor Ed Lein, also of the Allen Institute, tells Wired. “But it really highlights the fact that we need to be careful about assuming that the human brain is just a scaled-up version of a mouse.”

The team will now search for rosehip neurons in other human brain regions and investigate their potential roles in the organ’s function, according to a statement from the Allen Institute. “It may be that in order to fully understand psychiatric disorders, we need to get access to these special types of neurons that exist only in humans,” Joshua Gordon, who was not involved in the study but directs the National Institutes of Mental Health, which helped fund the research, tells NPR

Ongoing efforts to inventory all the cell types in the human brain may well turn up similar discoveries in future, Gordon adds. “I think it’s very, very likely that this is the tip of the iceberg.”

September 2018

The Muscle Issue

The dynamic tissue reveals its secrets

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

StemExpress LeukopakâNow Available in Frozen Format

StemExpress LeukopakâNow Available in Frozen Format

StemExpress, a Folsom, California based leading supplier of human biospecimens, announces the release of frozen Peripheral Blood Leukopaks. Leukopaks provide an enriched source of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) with low granulocyte and red blood cells that can be used in a variety of downstream cell-based applications.

New Antifade Mounting Media from Vector Laboratories Enhances Immunofluorescence Applications

New Antifade Mounting Media from Vector Laboratories Enhances Immunofluorescence Applications

Vector Laboratories, a leader in the development and manufacture of labeling and detection reagents for biomedical research, introduces VECTASHIELD® Vibrance™ – antifade mounting media that delivers significant improvements to the immunofluorescence workflow.

Best Practices for Sample Preparation and Lipid Extraction from Various Samples

Best Practices for Sample Preparation and Lipid Extraction from Various Samples

Download this white paper from Bertin Technologies to learn how to extract and analyze lipid samples from various models!

Bio-Rad Launches CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin for Process Protein Purification

Bio-Rad Launches CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin for Process Protein Purification

Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BIO and BIOb), a global leader of life science research and clinical diagnostic products, today announced the launch of two new chromatography media for process protein purification: CHT Ceramic Hydroxyapatite XT Media and Nuvia HP-Q Resin.