Posted on May 25, 2011, 6 a.m.
German researchers have successfully produced central nervous system cells from neural stem cells of the peripheral nervous system
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics (Germany) have now succeeded in producing central nervous system cells from neural stem cells of the peripheral nervous system. Further, the team found that if peripheral stem cells are maintained under defined growth conditions, they generate oligodendrocytes, which form the myelin layer that surrounds the neurons found in the brain and spinal cord. Together with colleagues from Paris, the German scientists also demonstrated that, under modified conditions, these stem cells can also generate cells of the central nervous system. They exposed stem cells from the peripheral nervous system of embryonic or postnatal mice to different culture conditions. In addition to neurons, the neural crest stem cells also developed into different types of glial cells of the central nervous system, including oligodendrocytes and astrocytes. In the brains of mice at different developmental stages, the reprogrammed stem cells mainly developed into oligodendrocytes, which form the myelin layer around the neurons of the central nervous system and are, therefore, indispensable for the transmission of electrical stimuli. Transplantation experiments carried out by the researchers on genetically modified mice that do not produce myelin and have severe neurological defects proved that the new oligodendrocytes can also assume this task.
Ellen Binder, Marion Rukavina, Hessameh Hassani, Marlen Weber, Hiroko Nakatani, Tobias Reiff, Carlos Parras, Verdon Taylor, Hermann Rohrer . “Peripheral nervous system progenitors can be reprogrammed to produce myelinating oligodendrocytes and repair brain lesions.” Journal of Neuroscience, April 27, 2011.