Cell neuroregeneration, self-repair of the central nervous system after injury, will open the door to cure many diseases. Does our brain have that regenerative capacity? José Antonio López Guerrero shares his RNE program “Entre Probetas”, with OpenMind to introduce us to the world of cerebral neuroregeneration
If any of you still think that our brain is composed of neurons without regeneration capacity, I have to tell you that you’re wrong; narrowly, but you’re wrong. In fact, in our postnatal phase as well as in adulthood, neurogenesis continues to exist in the area of the brain known as the Subventricular Zone (SVZ), which, by all indications, is controlled by intrinsic mechanisms of neural stem cells that interact with conductive extracellular signals. However, these molecular mechanisms are not fully known yet.
In this regard, researchers from Duke University School of Medicine, in North Carolina, USA have just published in Nature Neuroscience, with Patricia Paez-González as first author, the identification of specific neurons (called choline acetyltransferase neurons) residing in the rodent SVZ neurogenic niche that contribute to neurogeneration.
These neurons showed morphological and functional differences from neighboring neurons and released the acetylcholine neurotransmitter to activate and control neurogenic proliferation. In fact, the release of acetylcholine, along with other factors, is essential to give the signal to the neural stem cells to enhance neurogenesis with the increase in production of so-called neuroblasts.
The research reveals an unknown gateway connecting SVZ neurogenesis to the activation of a specific neuron in the area, which suggest possibilities for modulating neuroregenerative capacities, i.e. therapies, in brains –– and therefore in individuals –– whether they be healthy or diseased. Don’t forget, the brain does have cell regeneration capacity. That makes you feel a little happier, doesn’t it?
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José Antonio López Guerrero (JAL).
Tenured professor of microbiology at the UAM. Researcher and director of scientific culture at the Severo Ochoa Molecular Biology Centre.