Monday April 26 1:27 PM ET
NEW YORK, Apr 26 (Reuters Health) -- Some neural stem cells -- cells that become different types of nerve cells -- can migrate to specific parts of the brain, encouraging researchers who are studying the use of these cells in treating brain diseases, according to a report published in the May issue of Nature Neuroscience.
Transplantation of neural stem cells offers hope to treat neurodegenerative disorders, such as Parkinson's disease. In the past, however, stem cells have remained at the transplant site, "seemingly unable to migrate and integrate into regions that may require new neurons," note lead author Dr. Hynek Wichterle and colleagues at Rockefeller University, New York.
But the results of the new study "demonstrate that cells in different germinal regions have unique migratory potentials," the investigators report. The researchers tested the migratory potential of stem cells from different embryonic brain regions. Their study focused on the lateral ganglionic eminences (LGE) and medial ganglionic eminences (MGE) -- two areas of the brain that contain neuronal precursors that are known to migrate within the brain.
Results showed that transplanted neuronal precursors from embryonic MGE, but not LGE, dispersed and differentiated into neurons in multiple adult brain regions.
"This work directly demonstrates that widespread neuronal migration is possible in the adult mammalian brain," Wichterle and colleagues conclude. The investigators suggest that MGE cells "can serve as vehicles for gene delivery into the adult brain or may themselves be used for neuronal replacement."
"These findings could be useful in repair of diffuse brain damage," they add.
SOURCE: Nature Neuroscience 1999;2:461-466.