Myelin-producing Brain Cells Regenerated Using Stem Cells in Early Study

Myelin-producing Brain Cells Regenerated Using Stem Cells in Early Study

Researchers, using two different kinds of stem cells in rats, were able to regenerate oligodendrocytes — myelin-producing brain cells that are defective in multiple sclerosis (MS). They were also able to grow adult neural stem cells (NSCs, immature cells of the nervous system) in laboratory cultures and prod them to develop into oligodendrocytes.

The study, titled “Human mesenchymal factors induce rat hippocampal- and human neural stem cell dependent oligodendrogenesis,” was published in the journal Glia.

The exact cause of MS is unknown — including what triggers attacks on myelin — but the loss of oligodendrocytes seen in the disease is known to play a role in its progression.

Nerve cells in the brain send their signals through their axons, long arm-like structures that extend out from the centers of the nerve cells. The signals are electrical pulses transmitted along the length of an axon. Oligodendrocytes provide the insulation — called myelin — that wraps around axons, speeding up the transmission of electrical signals through the nerve cells.

Loss or malfunction of oligodendrocytes means that signaling in the brain is impaired. It is this slowing of signaling that is thought to cause MS symptoms.

Researchers from the Heinrich-Heine-University, Germany, with support from British and Chilean colleagues, designed a novel approach to regenerate oligodendrocytes, according to a press release.

Stem cells are immature cells that give rise to differentiated cells — cells with a specific function, such as oligodendrocytes.

Adult neural stem cells can divide and produce nerve cells and other brain cells, including oligodendrocytes. However, in normal circumstances, the regeneration of cells that take place in the human brain is not enough to repair the damage seen in MS.

The researchers set out to find conditions that would promote the differentiation of adult human NSCs into oligodendrocytes. They discovered that another type of stem cell, mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), could provide the signals required.

First they tested their system in rats, and found that by using factors produced by human MSCs, they could induce the growth of new oligodendrocytes in the animals.

Then they grew adult NSCs in the laboratory, and using the same factors from human MSCs were able to promote the establishment of oligodendrocytes in the cultured cells.

“Stimulation with human MSC factors was observed to equally promote rat stem cell oligodendrogenesis, axonal wrapping and tissue integration,” the team wrote.

“We also show for the first time that dominant pro-oligodendroglial factors derived from human fetal MSCs can instruct human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived NSCs to differentiate into … oligodendrocytes,” the researchers concluded.



  1. Jessica Smyth says:

    MS societys are against this yet have had billions donated . Too many crooks are involved in MS for money only and do not care about their MS patients . Even MS rsearchers have had lots donated also who like many involved in MS want money in their bank accounts only .

  2. Nina Khehra says:

    You’re absolutely right, this is why a cure has never been found for MS!! I think all MS societies need to go, as the staff members never know anything if you have a question for them!!! Completely useless, but money-grabbing!

  3. charles says:

    so are these mesenchymal stem cell factors things that could be given clinically? if not, then perhaps there might be a way to pharmacologically induce the release of these factors by endogenous mesenchymal stem cells.

  4. Bridget Rosandich says:

    If you have heard of Stem Genics, in California, it is already here. I would say they probably knew about this 20 years ago, truth be told. It is just too expensive to cure us for them. The minute I clicked on this link to read about this, an ad for Multiple Sclerosis medicine popped up. Isn’t that funny? I have had MS for 20 years, and the treatment has done nothing but stop the progression, didn’t cure me. This will never be allowed for most patients, unless you are rich, and can pay for your own stem cell treatments. Stem Genics says it uses your own stem cells? Nothing fetal about them. We make them far more money, staying on their drugs. Its a big club guys, and we are not in it!!

  5. Phil Longford says:

    Big Business does not want to find a cure, for Anything! Ongoing treatment is far more profitable.
    Certain philanthropists may have a more positive plan, to actually find cures!
    Let’s hope so.

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