Nav: Home

New Brazilian study describes neural inflammatory processes in lab-developed human cells

February 13, 2020

Astrocytes are neural cells with many important functions in the nervous system. The inflammation of these cells occurs in brain infections and neurodegenerative disorders, a process called astrogliosis. Aware of this fundamental process for the prevention of diseases and improvement of current treatments, a team led by researchers at the D'Or Institute for Research and Education (IDOR) and other five Brazilian Federal Universities published one of the first studies to categorically observe this inflammatory reaction in human astrocytes created in the laboratory.

The term astrogliosis may sound unfamiliar to the general public, but this inflammatory process is common to several diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis and congenital malformations caused by the Zika virus. Although astrogliosis is well studied in the neuroscience field, most of the knowledge came from animal models, an experimental strategy that contributes to scientific advancement, but it does not reproduce human brain complexity. "Animal testing has its indubitable relevance in science, but the reality is that it doesn't fully reproduce some human aspects, especially when related to responses of the immune system. This is the case of human glial cells, including astrocytes, which are responsible for the metabolic maintenance of neurons and their nerve impulses", says Pablo Trindade, the study's first author.

To understand the inflammatory process of astrogliosis, the research coordinator and scientist at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and IDOR, Stevens Rehen, adopted a cell culture procedure that is already his signature in several other studies on the human brain - among them, the development of brain organoids that helped to correlate Zika virus infection to the onset of microcephaly. The method used by Rehen's team is the reprogramming of human cells found in the urine of voluntary donors, turning them into pluripotent stem cells. These stem cells are then stimulated to become healthy astrocytes or any other human cell necessary for the research at the time. In this case, from the creation of astrocytes, the scientists have put these cells to react with an inflammatory protein, known as TNF, obtaining a map of the human astrogliosis in the laboratory. The observed results indicate that the inflammation process already occurs within the first hour, and it gradually impairs astrocytes function over time.

In addition to morphological changes of these cells, which start to show smaller nuclei and stretched shapes, the inflammation also interfered with the primary function of astrocytes: the regulation of neurotransmitters, that are substances secreted by neurons responsible for information transmission across synapses. The study identified that human astrocytes under astrogliosis showed impairment in the glutamate uptake. Of note, glutamate is the most important stimulatory neurotransmitter involved in many brain functions including learning and memory.

The publication is a highlight in studies about astrogliosis, since the approach allowed scientists to analyze the phenomenon in a non-invasive way using human cells. The researchers point out that the evidence and methods from this study can serve as a basis for other investigations, including those aimed at discovering new treatments, which can improve the quality of life of people suffering from brain inflammation triggered by infections or neurodegenerative diseases.
-end-


D'Or Institute for Research and Education

Related Stem Cells Articles:

More selective elimination of leukemia stem cells and blood stem cells
Hematopoietic stem cells from a healthy donor can help patients suffering from acute leukemia.
Computer simulations visualize how DNA is recognized to convert cells into stem cells
Researchers of the Hubrecht Institute (KNAW - The Netherlands) and the Max Planck Institute in Münster (Germany) have revealed how an essential protein helps to activate genomic DNA during the conversion of regular adult human cells into stem cells.
First events in stem cells becoming specialized cells needed for organ development
Cell biologists at the University of Toronto shed light on the very first step stem cells go through to turn into the specialized cells that make up organs.
Surprising research result: All immature cells can develop into stem cells
New sensational study conducted at the University of Copenhagen disproves traditional knowledge of stem cell development.
The development of brain stem cells into new nerve cells and why this can lead to cancer
Stem cells are true Jacks-of-all-trades of our bodies, as they can turn into the many different cell types of all organs.
Healthy blood stem cells have as many DNA mutations as leukemic cells
Researchers from the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology have shown that the number of mutations in healthy and leukemic blood stem cells does not differ.
New method grows brain cells from stem cells quickly and efficiently
Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have developed a faster method to generate functional brain cells, called astrocytes, from embryonic stem cells.
NUS researchers confine mature cells to turn them into stem cells
Recent research led by Professor G.V. Shivashankar of the Mechanobiology Institute at the National University of Singapore and the FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology in Italy, has revealed that mature cells can be reprogrammed into re-deployable stem cells without direct genetic modification -- by confining them to a defined geometric space for an extended period of time.
Researchers develop a new method for turning skin cells into pluripotent stem cells
Researchers at the University of Helsinki, Finland, and Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, have for the first time succeeded in converting human skin cells into pluripotent stem cells by activating the cell's own genes.
In mice, stem cells seem to work in fighting obesity! What about stem cells in humans?
This release aims to summarize the available literature in regard to the effect of Mesenchymal Stem Cells transplantation on obesity and related comorbidities from the animal model.
More Stem Cells News and Stem Cells Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Meditations on Loneliness
Original broadcast date: April 24, 2020. We're a social species now living in isolation. But loneliness was a problem well before this era of social distancing. This hour, TED speakers explore how we can live and make peace with loneliness. Guests on the show include author and illustrator Jonny Sun, psychologist Susan Pinker, architect Grace Kim, and writer Suleika Jaouad.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.