Researchers Find A New Way To Reduce Memory Loss With Neural Stem Cells

First Posted: Jun 17, 2016 04:20 AM EDT

The researchers from the Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine find a way to regenerate memory with neural stem cells, in which they graft them into an aged brain.

The study was printed in the journal Stem Cells Translational Medicine. It was authored by Ashok K. Shetty, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine, research career scientist at the Central Texas Veterans Health Care System and the associate director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine. It is also co-authored by Bharathi Hattiangady, an assistant professor at the Texas A&M College of Medicine.

The study involved an animal model. The researchers took neural stem cells and implanted them into the hippocampus, which is a part of the brain that makes new memories and connects them to emotions, of an animal model. It effectively enables them to regenerate tissue.

Shetty explained that they chose the hippocampus because it is so significant in memory, learning and mood function. They are interested in understanding aging in the brain, particularly in the hippocampus, which seems particularly vulnerable to age-related changes. This part of the brain decreases during the aging process, this leads to age-related decline in neurogenesis and the memory deficits as some people might experience as they grow older.

Hattiangady said that they are very excited to see that the aged hippocampus can accept grafted neural stem cells as superbly as the young hippocampus does and this has effects for treating age-related neurodegenerative disorders. He added that it is interesting that even neural stem cell niches can be formed in the aged hippocampus.

In the study, the researchers discovered that the neural stem cells engrafted well onto the hippocampus in the young animal models as well as the older ones that would be, in a human term as, about 70 years old. These implanted cells survive and they divided several times to make new cells.

The age-related illnesses include dementia and loss of cognitive functions. Dementia is marked by a continuing, disabling decline in two or more intellectual abilities such as language, abstract thinking, memory and judgment. Its symptoms involve difficulty in performing simple tasks such as washing up, dressing appropriately and paying bills. On the other hand, with age-related memory loss, the memory lapses have little impact on your daily performance and ability to do what you want to do. You can still function independently and pursue normal activities even though there are occasional memory lapses.

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