CNR discovery: ‘With running, new stem cells in the brain’
That exercise benefits not only the body but also the brain by producing new neurons is a well-known fact. However, researchers at the Institute of Cell Biology and Neurobiology of the National Research Council (Ibcn-Cnr) in Rome have shown for the first time running can even halt the brain aging process and to stimulate the production of new stem cells, which improve memory skills. The study is published in the journal Stem Cells.
“This research has unhinged a dogma of neurobiology: Until now, it was thought that the decline of neurogenesis in adulthood was irreversible- explains Stefano Farioli-Vecchioli of Ibcn-Cnr, coordinator of the study- With our experiment, working on a mouse model with neuronal and behavioral deficits caused by the lack of a proliferative stem cell brake (the Btg1 gene), we found instead that in the adult brain, aerobic exercise such as running blocks the aging process and stimulates massive production of new nerve stem cells in the hippocampus, Increasing memory performance. In essence, deficit neurogenesis restarts when, in the absence of this gene, physical activity is performed, which not only totally reverses the process of stem cell loss but triggers cell hyper-proliferation with a lasting effect”. Thus in a statement the CNR.
The study, carried out in the laboratory directed by Felice Tirone who for years has been studying some molecular mechanisms that regulate proliferation and differentiation processes in adult neurogenesis, in collaboration with Vincenzo Cestari of La Sapienza University, opens new vistas in regenerative medicine of the central nervous system.
“The discovery lays the groundwork for further research aimed at increasing adult stem proliferation in the hippocampus and sub ventricular. The findings will have very important implications for the prevention of aging and hippocampus-dependent memory loss. As far as neurodegenerative diseases are concerned, the therapeutic potential of these cells is indeed vast, even if targeted therapies may not result in the short term.
The next step will be to validate the discovery on other mouse models with diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or in which an ischemic event has caused high neuronal mortality, by isolating and transplanting the hyper-activated stem cells,” concludes Farioli-Vecchioli of the Ibcn-Cnr.