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Stem cells talk to old neurons

Implanted neural stem cells "cross-talk" with resident cells and rescue old or injured cells.

Tudor Toma

In some experimental models neuronal stem cells can replace dead neurons, but their potential for the treatment of CNS diseases remains unclear. Two papers in October 15 Nature Biotechnology, show that implanted NSCs "cross-talk" with resident cells and can rescue old or injured neurons in the brains of mice.

Jitka Ourednik and colleagues in the Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA, implanted murine NSCs into the midbrains of adult mice. They observed that these cells integrated widely within the aged brain and effected a degree of cell replacement. NSCs were an unexpected major force in tissue recovery, altering the host environment such that the function of imperiled endogenous neurons was reactivated or preserved (Nature Biotechnology, doi:10.1038/nbt750, October 15, 2002).

"Dissecting the molecular determinants of this reciprocal intercellular signaling could also lead to new treatment approaches to progressive neurodegenerative diseases", write Ourednik et al.

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