Neurons from human stem cells come into play in living mice

Researchers have demonstrated that neurons from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) can be functionally integrated in the brains of living mice, a key step toward successful cell transplantation therapy for neurological diseases. Neurons transplanted from stem cells are known to relieve signs of neurodegeneration in animal models, but there has been little evidence that these cells are fully integrated into brain networks. Using neurons from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) specifically activated by light, the researchers studied the ability of human cells transplanted in laboratory experiments and in mouse brains to integrate into mouse neurons.

The authors cultured these human cells with mouse neurons and showed synchronous "impulsive" activity. Although neurons from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) do not normally exhibit this behavior, these human cells gradually developed impulsive activity during the growth of neurons with mice. In addition, stimulating these human neurons with light triggered impulsive behavior in mouse neurons, suggests that interaction between human and mouse neurons.

Light stimulation also elicited responses from mouse brain slices grafted with neurons from human embryonic stem cells (hESCs), suggesting that transplanted neurons can be functionally integrated into the neural network and control its activity. The findings could prove useful for treatments for Parkinson's, alzheimer's, stroke and epilepsy, say the authors.
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