More MS news articles for Sep 2001

Growth Factor Generates New Brain Neurons in Animal Studies

WESTPORT, CT (Reuters Health) Sept 13 - Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), an endogenous chemical that is reduced in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease and Huntington's disease, promotes new brain neuron growth when given to rats.

Two studies reported in the September 1st issue of the Journal of Neuroscience investigate the neuron-generating ability of BDNF.

In one study, Dr. Marla B. Luskin, from Emory University in Atlanta, and colleagues infused BDNF into the lateral ventricles of adult rats. A cell proliferation marker was used to determine neuron generation attributable to BDNF treatment.

Previous studies have shown that BDNF can generate new neurons in the rostral migratory stream and in the olfactory bulb regions of the brain. Dr. Luskin's team extended these findings by showing that BDNF also promotes neurogenesis in the striatum, septum, thalamus, and the hypothalamus.

The current findings and those of others "indicate that BDNF is important for the survival of certain neuronal populations in the adult forebrain," the authors state. "Thus, if BDNF could be provided exogenously, it could potentially serve to promote the formation of numerous new neurons in extensive regions of the mammalian brain," they add.

In another study, Dr. Steven A. Goldman and colleagues from Cornell University Medical College in New York used an adenovirus vector to deliver the BDNF gene to the brains of adult rats. Three weeks after the injection into the lateral ventricle, molecular analysis revealed evidence of BDNF overexpression.

Adenoviral BDNF-treated rats demonstrated new neuron growth in the neostriatum and in the olfactory bulb, the authors report. The new neurons were derived from neural progenitor cells that existed in the adult forebrain.

"To the best of our knowledge, these experiments comprise the first use of viral gene delivery as a means to induce neurogenesis from resident progenitor cells in the adult central nervous system," the investigators state.

J Neurosci 2001;21:6706-6731.

Copyright © 2001 Reuters Ltd