Melbourne: A research by an Indian-origin scientist has identified two types of stem cells that can help in solving the mystery surrounding how brain regulates diverse functions such as memory and mood. The discovery of the stem cells in the hippocampus, a region of the brain vital for learning and memory, may have implications for the treatment of learning- and mood-related disorders.
“The stem cells we have identified give rise to new neurons,” said the study’s lead author Dhanisha Jhaveri from the University of Queensland in Australia. “The production of new neurons in the brain, is essential for learning and cognitive function.” “Previously, these neurons were thought to be identical, so it was not understood how the region is able to regulate behaviours as divergent as learning and mood,” Professor Perry Bartlett, director of the Queensland Brain Institute, said.
He said the discovery solved a longstanding mystery about the birth of new neurons in the hippocampus. “The existence of distinct stem cell populations suggests that they give rise to different types of neurons, which explains the varied functions of the hippocampus,” Bartlett said. The discovery was undertaken using state-of-the-art cell-sorting and DNA technologies, Jhaveri said. “The two cell groups are located in different regions of the hippocampus, which suggests that distinct areas within the hippocampus control spatial learning versus mood.” “When we purified the cells, we found that they are activated by different mechanisms and generate new neurons that differ in their gene expression.” The study appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience.