Growth Factor Stimulation Leads To Increase In New Neurons In The Striatum And Cortex Of The Brain

NEW ORLEANS -- The number of new neurons in the striatum and cortex, key areas of the brain responsible for movement, vision and higher mental functions, can be increased in adult rats through stimulation with a growth factor, Emory University and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. researchers report at this week's Society for Neuroscience meeting.

The researchers administered the brain-derived neutrotrophic growth factor (BDNF) to the right lateral ventricle of the brains of adult rats. Not only did they confirm their previous findings that the number of neurons was increased in the olfactory bulb of the brain, but also that the number of neurons in the striatum and outer brain, or cortex, increased significantly.

Contrary to a long-held belief that neurons cannot reproduce themselves, Marla Luskin, Ph.D., associate professor of cell biology at Emory University School of Medicine, and colleague Tanja Zigova previously demonstrated that the adult mammalian forebrain has a remarkable capacity to produce new neurons. They identified and isolated a population of virtually pure neuronal cells - cells that have the capacity to produce more neurons - in the anterior part of the brain?s subventricular zone (SVZa).

This population was unlike all other cell populations in the developing brain which contain a mixture of progenitor cells for neurons and glial cells. Dr. Luskin demonstrated that this region actively produces new neurons both in vivo and in tissue culture. These newly generated neurons were found to travel to the olfactory bulb in the forebrain. In recent work they were able to significantly increase neuronal production in the olfactory bulb of the SVZa by administering BDNF in the ventricles of adult rats.

In their latest work, the researchers have demonstrated that after BDNF is administered, neuronal production also increases in the proliferative layer of the subventricular zone (S

Contact: Sarah Goodwin
Emory University Health Sciences Center

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