Apr 16

Phenotypical and functional heterogeneity of neural stem cells in the aged hippocampus

Another internal collaboration project unravels the transformation of the morphology of neural stem cells in the hippocampus

The brain of most mammal species, including humans, has the capacity of generating new neurons throughout adulthood in a particularity structure devoted to memory and learning, the hippocampus. This capability, called adult neurogenesis decreases sharply with aging.

The laboratory of Dr. Juan Manuel Encinas discovered years ago that the population of neural stem cells that generated the new neurons got depleted over time. This however was not enough to explain the decline in adult neurogenesis. Now, in a project spearheaded by Dr. Soraya Martín-Suárez and with the collaboration with Dr. Jorge Valero from the SierraLab  in ACHUCARRO, they have discovered that, in mice, those neural stem cells that remain in the aged hippocampus transform their morphology and reduced markedly their capability to enter cell division adopting a senescent phenotype. Although this transformation implies less neurogenesis it on the other hand preserves the neural stem cells by slowing down their rate of depletion so that even in very old mouse brains neural stem cells can be found.

The work published in Aging Cell, one of the most prestigious scientific journals in the field of cellular aging, also shows how inflammation promotes the conversion of young neural stem cells into their senescent counterparts.