The mechanisms that allow hippocampal stem cells to remain unaltered have been discovered. Laminin 511 contained in the extracellular matrix plays a key role. The research was coordinated by the Biology Laboratory of the Scuola Normale Superiore Bio @ SNS
Pisa, October 28, 2022. The molecular mechanisms that allow hippocampal stem cells to remain unaltered have been discovered. Hippocampus is the brain region responsible for memory and are involved in the cognitive degeneration of Alzheimer disease. The research has been coordinated by the Biology Laboratory of the Scuola Normale Superiore, Bio@SNS, directed by Professor Antonino Cattaneo, in collaboration with the Neuroscience Institute of the CNR, Pisa section and the IIT Center for Human Technologies in Genoa and published in the scietific journal Development.
Understanding the mechanisms that regulate the maintenance of neural stem cells in the hippocampus, or, more generally, in those cells responsible in the generation of new nerve cells during adult life, is particularly important both in basic research and in the study of neurodegenerative diseases and aging. In fact, hippocampal stem cells, unlike most of the adult nerve cells, continue to divide and produce new nerve cells and their decay correlates with that of cognitive abilities.
The authors of the research, including the associate professor of Physiology of the Scuola Normale, Federico Cremisi, found that the combined action of the growth factor WNT and the extracellular matrix protein laminin 511, also crucial in the maintenance of embryonic stem cells and stem cells reprogrammed from the skin, is sufficient to keep hippocampal stem cells unaltered for over six months in culture. These cells, when transplanted into the mouse hippocampus, become nerve cells and generate synaptic contacts with host nerve cells. The researchers used human skin cells, reprogrammed to become nerve cells (according to the technique devised by Nobel Prize for Medicine Shinya Yamanaka). The discovery of the role of laminin 511 in maintaining hippocampal stemness represents an important step for research in the field of neuroscience.