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.”

July 2019

On Target

Researchers strive to make individualized medicine a reality

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

Overcoming the Efficiency Challenge in Clinical NGS
Overcoming the Efficiency Challenge in Clinical NGS
Download this white paper to see how an ECS lab serving a network of more than 10,000 healthcare providers integrated QIAGEN Clinical Insight (QCI) Interpret to significantly reduce manual variant curation efforts and increase workflow efficiency by 80%!
Veravas Launches Product Portfolio to Mitigate Biotin Interference and Improve Diagnostic Assay Accuracy
Veravas Launches Product Portfolio to Mitigate Biotin Interference and Improve Diagnostic Assay Accuracy
Veravas, Inc., an emerging diagnostic company, launched a portfolio of products that can improve the accuracy of current diagnostic test results by helping laboratory professionals detect and manage biotin interference in patient samples with VeraTest Biotin and VeraPrep Biotin.
New Data on Circulating Tumor DNA as a Biomarker for Detecting Cancer Progression Presented at 2019 ASCO Annual Meeting
New Data on Circulating Tumor DNA as a Biomarker for Detecting Cancer Progression Presented at 2019 ASCO Annual Meeting
Scientists presented more than 30 abstracts featuring Bio-Rad’s Droplet Digital PCR (ddPCR) technology at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in Chicago, May 31–June 4.
BellBrook Labs Receives NIH Grant for the Discovery of cGAS Inhibitors to Treat Autoimmune Diseases
BellBrook Labs Receives NIH Grant for the Discovery of cGAS Inhibitors to Treat Autoimmune Diseases
The National Institute Of Allergy And Infectious Disease recently awarded BellBrook Labs a $300,000 Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) grant to develop novel inhibitors for the target cyclic GAMP Synthase (cGAS). The grant will be used to accelerate the discovery of new treatments for autoimmune diseases by targeting the cGAS-STING pathway.