Neuroscience

Stroke Recovery

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Science  06 Sep 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6150, pp. 1044
DOI: 10.1126/science.341.6150.1044-b

Astrocytes are the most numerous cells in the mammalian brain, providing metabolic support for neurons and modulating synaptic transmission. They can also help to repair neuronal injuries, replacing central nervous system cells that cannot regenerate. Because they are believed to protect neurons from injury and death, there is interest in exploring their therapeutic potential, in particular to promote recovery after stroke. Although astroglia have been derived in vitro from human embryonic stem cells, it is not clear whether a subpopulation of astroglia might better promote repair. Jiang et al. generated highly pure populations of astroglia progenitors from human embryonic stem cells and observed that those expressing the transcription factor Olig2 showed strong neuroprotective effects against oxidative stress and glutamate toxicity in vitro. Further, rats that received hippocampal transplants of human Olig2+ astroglia soon after being subjected to global cerebral ischemia showed increased synaptogenesis and improved learning and memory in water maze trials. The observed differential expression of growth factors, neurotrophic factors, cytokines, and chemokines related to synaptic function may account for differences in the ability of this astroglia population to promote recovery.

Nat. Comm. 4, 10.1038/ncomms3196 (2013).

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