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Rejuvenating the Brain with Stem Cells: Unraveling the Secrets of Cognitive Revitalization

Rejuvenating the Brain with Stem Cells: Unraveling the Secrets of Cognitive Revitalization. Discover the innovative potential of stem cells in rejuvenating the brain. Stem cells offer new hope for improving learning and memory, even in aging brains. Learn how researchers are harnessing the power of stem cells to combat cognitive decline and open new possibilities for brain health.

As we age, our brains face increasing challenges in learning and remembering new things. Researchers at the Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden (CRTD) wanted to investigate if increasing the number of stem cells in the brain would help regain cognitive functions. Such as learning and memory, lost during aging.

Stem cells residing in the brain

To investigate this, the research group used a method developed in their laboratory. To stimulate the small group of neural stem cells residing in the brain to increase their number. As a result, the quantity of neurons generated by these stem cells also increased.

Surprisingly, additional neurons could survive and form new connections with neighboring cells in the brains of old mice.

The researchers then examined a key cognitive ability that is lost, similarly in mice and humans, during aging: navigation.

It is well known that individuals learn to navigate a new environment differently depending on whether they are young or old.

When young, the brain can build and remember a cognitive map of the environment. But this ability fades in older brains.

As an alternative solution to the problem. Older brains without a cognitive map of the environment need to learn the fixed series of turns and twists required to reach a specific destination.

While the two strategies may seem superficially similar. Only a cognitive map can allow individuals to navigate efficiently when starting from a new location or when they need to reach a new destination.

Rejuvenating the Brain with Stem Cells

Would increasing the number of neurons be enough to counteract the brain’s declining performance in navigation and slow down this aging process?

The teams were led by Professor Calegari (CRTD) along with Professor Gerd Kempermann (German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases DZNE / CRTD), and Dr. Kentaroh Takagaki (Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg). Found the answer to this challenging question and published it this week in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

Young and older individuals use different neuronal structures when performing their habits.

In young individuals, an area of ​​the brain called the hippocampus is crucial for remembering places and events and is also responsible for creating maps of new environments.

However, older individuals use other structures that are more related to habit formation.

“It was very interesting to see that adding more neurons in the hippocampus of old mice allowed them to use typical strategies of young animals. It wasn’t just about how fast they were learning. But how different the learning process itself was,” explains Gabriel Berdugo-Vega, first author of the study.

“Human beings also have some stem cells in the brain. It is known that these stem cells severely reduce their number throughout life. Identifying the underlying causes of cognitive deficits in aging and rescuing them is crucial for our rapidly aging societies.

Our work demonstrates that age-related deficiencies can be rescued by hijacking the brain’s endogenous neurogenic potential, thus rejuvenating its function.

As a human with stem cells and the lead author of this study. I felt I had a personal interest in this topic,” says Professor Federico Calegari, lead author of this study.

Mission of the CRTD.

The research group of Prof. Federico Calegari focuses on mammalian neural stem cells in the context of development, evolution, and cognitive function at the CRTD.

The institute is the academic home to scientists from over 30 nations. Its mission is to discover the principles of cell and tissue regeneration and harness this for the recognition, treatment, and reversal of diseases.

The CRTD connects the bench to the bedside. Scientists to physicians pool expertise in stem cells, developmental biology, gene editing, and regeneration towards innovative therapies for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Finally, If you want to know more, visit our article on What Are Stem Cells.

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