Brain Cell Growth Is Spurred by Protein Absent in Brains of Mice
A protein that may partly explain why human brains are larger than those of other animals has been identified by scientists from two stem-cell labs at UC San Francisco, in research published in the November 13, 2014 issue of Nature.
Key experiments by the UCSF researchers revealed that the protein, called PDGFD, is made in growing brains of humans, but not in mice, and appears necessary for normal proliferation of human brain stem cells growing in a lab dish.
Researchers recently found that an immune-system protein called MHCI, or major histocompatibility complex class I, moonlights in the nervous system to help regulate the number of synapses, which transmit chemical and electrical signals between neurons.
When it comes to the brain, “more is better” seems like an obvious assumption. But in the case of synapses, which are the connections between brain cells, too many or too few can both disrupt brain function.
“With this information we hope to better understand the earliest stages in the development of this disease and gain information to guide prevention and treatment efforts.” -Sigan Hartley
The link between a protein typically associated with Alzheimer’s disease and its impact on memory and cognition may not be as clear as once thought, according to a new study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Waisman Center. The findings are revealing more information about the earliest stages of the neurodegenerative disease.