Researchers have developed a new method for delivering neural precursor cells into rat models of spinal cord injury. The method is safe, effective, and reduces the likelihood of further spinal trauma while delivering larger doses of reparative stem cells. The new approach could also be used for the treatment of ALS and multiple sclerosis.
A synthesized small-molecule drug blocks the TGF-beta receptor in astrocytes and traverses the blood-brain barrier in mice. When administered, the drug lowered receptor activity to that seen in younger mice and reduced inflammation. The aged mice were able to navigate mazes and learn spatial tasks as well as younger mice.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chemicals commonly used during the 20th century as flame retardants and in industrial products, disrupt the performance of astrocytes, leading to impaired function. Environmental exposure to PCBs could contribute to a range of neurodegenerative diseases.
Examining postmortem brains of ASD patients, researchers discover an accumulation of immune cells surrounding blood vessels in the brain. They also found blebs accumulating around blood vessels that contained astrocyte debris. The findings suggest autism may be an autoimmune disorder.
Psychopathy is associated with altered expression of genes and immune responses related to molecular pathways. In neurons, the up-regulation of PRL10P9 and ZNF132 and down-regulation of CDG5 and OPRD1 were linked to psychopathic behaviors. The genetic expression explained up to 92% of the variance of psychopathic symptoms. Researchers speculated these genes may be relevant to the lack of empathy and emotional callousness associated with psychopathy, as previous studies have linked a number of these genes to ASD and problematic social behaviors.
In mice genetically engineered to carry human stuttering mutations, vocalization defects are derived from abnormalities in astrocytes in the corpus callosum.
Vascular cell loss results in neuron loss, researchers report. However, pericytes secrete a substance that helps protect neurons, even when vascular cell degeneration begins to occur.
The FGF signaling pathway is an important extracellular regulator in the fate of neural stem cells switching from neurons to astrocytes in the cerebral cortex.
Glial cells and radial astrocytes might control the decision to give up swimming against the current in Zebrafish.
Astrocytes can alter neurons to drive behaviors associated with ADHD. Researchers believe astrocytes may be used to develop targeted treatments for behavioral deficits associated with a range of mental illnesses.