UT Southwestern scientists explain how the injured brain remodels itself

DALLAS Nov. 1, 2001 - Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas have begun to reveal the cellular mechanisms critical for restoring brain functions after traumatic injuries a step that could lead to effective treatments of paralysis and other brain and spinal-cord damage.

The study indicated that the injured brains long-observed restorative powers at least partially derive from generating waves of adult-neural stem cells, or specialized precursors, to develop into critically needed replacement neurons and astrocytes. Neurons, the basic building blocks of the nervous system, and astrocytic cells, which provide metabolic functions between neurons and blood vessels, are crucial to restoring or remodeling damaged brain and spinal-cord tissue.

Published in the Nov. 1 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience Research, the study involving adult mice showed that following traumatic brain injury, the brains stem-cell proliferation continues at a rapid pace and persists over a much longer time than expected, both at the injury site and even in the most-distant areas affected by the injury, said Dr. Steven G. Kernie, assistant professor of pediatrics and lead researcher.

The findings suggest that manipulating the expression of stem-cell regulators might accelerate or prolong the regeneration of neurons in humans, said Kernie, who collaborated with Dr. Luis F. Parada, director of the Center for Developmental Biology and the Kent Waldrep Foundation Center for Basic Research on Nerve Growth and Regeneration.

We wanted to answer some basic questions about the persistence of neural stem cells proliferating into adulthood, Kernie said. Our study of traumatic brain injuries in adult mice found that natures own restorative powers are more extensive than previously thought. Perhaps even more exciting, we found that the regenerative powers are widespread, not just in the immediate area of the injury. Though using mice, our study raises the pos

Contact: Worth Wren Jr.
UT Southwestern Medical Center

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