Nav: Home

Blood vessels control brain growth

November 07, 2016

Blood vessels play a vital role in stem cell reproduction, enabling the brain to grow and develop in the womb, reveals new UCL research in mice.

The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and funded by Wellcome, shows that blood vessels can increase the number of neural stem cells inside a living organism. This could be important for the design of stem cell-based therapies that aim to regenerate diseased or damaged parts of the nervous system.

In the developing brain, new neurons are produced by neural stem cells in 'neurogenic' areas, where they have to be instructed when and how often they should divide or what type of progeny they should produce. Until now, however, the signals responsible for these instructions have remained elusive.

"We found that blood vessels play a vital role in telling neural stem cells when and how to reproduce," explains lead author Mathew Tata (UCL Institute of Ophthalmology). "We examined neural stem cell behaviour in the brainstem of mice lacking the blood vessel protein NRP1, because this part of the brain is particularly important to control fundamental processes such as breathing and heart rate. Preventing blood vessel growth in the neurogenic areas of the brainstem interfered with normal neuron production, causing neural stem cells to lose their ability to reproduce. As a result the stem cells disappeared from the brainstem before its growth was complete, so mice lacking NRP1 ended up with smaller brainstems."

The research provides the first evidence that blood vessels are not only important for delivering blood to the developing brain, but also play an important role in stem cell signalling.

"Blood vessels are best known for their important function in supplying oxygen and nutrients to the brain," says senior author Christiana Ruhrberg (UCL Institute of Ophthalmology). "However, the most intriguing finding of this study was that blood vessels did not regulate neural stem cell behaviour in the brainstem simply through their role in brain oxygenation or keeping brain tissue healthy. We found that blood vessels also provide important signals that allow stem cells to reproduce for a longer period of time, before they permanently become nerve cells that cannot multiply."
-end-


University College London

Related Stem Cells Articles:

A protein that stem cells require could be a target in killing breast cancer cells
Researchers have identified a protein that must be present in order for mammary stem cells to perform their normal functions.
Approaching a decades-old goal: Making blood stem cells from patients' own cells
Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital have, for the first time, generated blood-forming stem cells in the lab using pluripotent stem cells, which can make virtually every cell type in the body.
New research finds novel method for generating airway cells from stem cells
Researchers have developed a new approach for growing and studying cells they hope one day will lead to curing lung diseases such as cystic fibrosis through 'personalized medicine.'
Mature heart muscle cells created in the laboratory from stem cells
Generating mature and viable heart muscle cells from human or other animal stem cells has proven difficult for biologists.
Mutations in bone cells can drive leukemia in neighboring stem cells
DNA mutations in bone cells that support blood development can drive leukemia formation in nearby blood stem cells.
More Stem Cells News and Stem Cells Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans
More than test scores or good grades — what do kids need to prepare them for the future? This hour, guest host Manoush Zomorodi and TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, in and out of the classroom. Guests include educators Olympia Della Flora and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#535 Superior
Apologies for the delay getting this week's episode out! A technical glitch slowed us down, but all is once again well. This week, we look at the often troubling intertwining of science and race: its long history, its ability to persist even during periods of disrepute, and the current forms it takes as it resurfaces, leveraging the internet and nationalism to buoy itself. We speak with Angela Saini, independent journalist and author of the new book "Superior: The Return of Race Science", about where race science went and how it's coming back.