A new study from the Naegele laboratory at Wesleyan was recently released. This study looked at whether it might be possible for neural stem cell transplantation to reduce abnormal adult neurogenesis. The researchers conducted an experiment on mice who had temporal lobe epilepsy.
The Study Findings
The head researcher in the study, Professor Janice Naegele, has found success with previous studies on mice. She has said that their other studies that “transplanted inhibitory neurons from the embryonic mouse brain into the adult mouse hippocampus reorganized neural circuits in the hippocampus and reduced seizures.” The latest study that was released in eNeuro looked at whether the “transplanted inhibitory neurons formed functional synaptic connections with adult-born hippocampal neurons generated after the onset of epilepsy.”
For this particular study, the researchers involved transplanted the inhibitory neurons into the hippocampus of the mice who had epilepsy. They would then identify any neurons that were newly generated in the adult mice by using fluorescent viral vectors to identify them. Also, the researchers utilized a technique called optogenetics in this study. This helped them to cause the cells that had been transplanted to fire and release chemical signals onto target cells.
The researchers found that when they did this, it resulted in “robust light-induced inhibition coming from the transplanted cells onto newly generated granule cells in the epileptic brains.” They concluded that this demonstrated the cells that had been transplanted were capable of forming inhibitory synapses that were actually functional, even though they were added to adult-born neurons.
When they looked at the abnormal dendrite growth, they found that through the “wiring” of the adult-born neurons, it meant that the subject was developing shorter dendrites. These shorter dendrites show that there is the potential for a reduction in seizures. This is because the shorter dendrites are not overgrowing the adult-born neurons in the mice, thus helping to reduce the hyperexcitability that occurs in the brains of those who are suffering from epilepsy.
What Does this Mean for People with Epilepsy?
Although it is always exciting to see that there is new research being done in the field of epilepsy, it is always just as important to make sure that excitement is tempered. As with many other studies, the results here have a lot of potential, but there still needs to be a substantial amount of work done to provide further research.
While it is shown that it could be helpful in mice, there have not been any human tests, and there are still somewhat of a controversy when it comes to whether adult neurogenesis in the adult human brain is even possible. We will only know exactly what this could mean for those who are suffering from temporal lobe epilepsy after more research has been completed.
With more researching into this area, there is the potential for this to be a type of potential treatment for patients. There are other areas of research being conducted currently, as well. This should give those who suffer and their loved ones some hope that more will be discovered about dealing with this condition in the not too distant future.