Newborn cells in the epileptic brain provide a potential target for treatment —


Through the years, everybody loses just a few mind cells. A examine led by scientists from USC Stem Cell and the USC Neurorestoration Middle presents proof that adults can replenish not less than a few of what they’ve misplaced by producing new mind cells, and that this course of is dramatically altered in sufferers with long-term epilepsy. The findings are revealed in Nature Neuroscience.

“Our examine is the primary to element the presence of new child neurons and an immature model of a associated cell kind, generally known as astroglia, in sufferers with epilepsy,” stated Michael Bonaguidi, an assistant professor of stem cell biology and regenerative drugs, gerontology, and biomedical engineering at USC. “Our findings furnish shocking new insights into how immature astroglia would possibly contribute to epilepsy — opening an unexplored avenue towards the event of recent anti-seizure medicines for tens of millions of individuals.”

First writer Aswathy Ammothumkandy, who’s a postdoctoral fellow within the Bonaguidi Lab, and her colleagues collaborated with USC neurosurgeons Charles Liu and Jonathan Russin, who usually deal with sufferers with seizures that may’t be managed with remedy. Drug resistance is especially frequent with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy, or MTLE, and impacts one-third of all sufferers with this type of the illness. In consequence, some sufferers must endure surgical procedure to take away the part of the mind, the hippocampus, that causes their seizures.

“Many sufferers bravely and generously donate their surgical specimens for analysis to advance our understanding of epilepsy and to develop new and higher therapies,” stated Russin, an assistant professor of neurological surgical procedure, and affiliate director of the USC Neurorestoration Middle. “These sufferers know higher than anybody the trade-offs concerned within the present therapy choices, which regularly both do not present enough seizure management, or carry very critical cognitive negative effects.”

The surgical specimens afforded a singular alternative for the researchers to check residing mind tissue from sufferers with epilepsy, and to match its microscopic anatomy with autopsy samples from individuals with no identified neurological illness.

Within the samples from individuals each with and with out epilepsy, the scientists noticed new child neurons, including compelling new proof to the continued scientific debate about whether or not adults retain the power to generate these cells. Within the surgical specimens, the longer the sufferers had skilled seizures, the scarcer these new child neurons grew to become. Extra surprisingly, the surgical specimens contained a persistent inhabitants of immature astroglia that weren’t noticed within the disease-free samples.

As a result of the mind tissue within the surgical specimens was nonetheless alive, the scientists may additionally use it to develop stem cells within the laboratory and take a look at their capability to kind new child neurons and immature astrocytes. In these experiments, an extended illness period lowered the power to kind new child neurons and elevated the manufacturing of immature astroglia, in keeping with the crew’s direct observations of the surgical specimens.

The crew additionally studied electrical exercise associated to seizures. They discovered suspicious correlations between the place electrical exercise was localized throughout the surgical samples, and the situation and habits of the astroglia.

“Usually, astroglia are thought-about to be supporting cells, as a result of their job is to create an atmosphere the place neurons can thrive,” stated Ammothumkandy. “However in sufferers who’ve lived for a few years with epilepsy, it could be immature astroglia which can be contributing to each initiating and modulating continual seizures.”

If that is so, then immature astroglia may very well be an efficient cell kind to focus on by growing a completely new class of anti-seizure medicines.

“At the moment out there seizure medicines have a tendency to focus on neurons, so medicines that act on immature astroglia may tremendously increase the choices for our sufferers,” stated Liu, a professor of neurological surgical procedure, neurology, and biomedical engineering, director of the USC Neurorestoration Middle, and director of the USC Epilepsy Care Consortium. “A brand new class of medicine may mix with present medical and surgical methods to manage seizures with out aggressive surgical elimination of elements of the mind that may be critically vital for studying, reminiscence and emotional regulation.”

Bonaguidi, Liu and Russin initially kicked off the undertaking with pilot funding from an Eli and Edythe Broad Innovation Award, which helps college pursuing analysis collaborations associated to stem cells. The examine introduced collectively clinicians, scientists and engineers from throughout the Keck College of Medication of USC — together with on the Eli and Edythe Broad Middle for Regenerative Medication and Stem Cell Analysis at USC, the USC Neurorestoration Middle, and the Zilkha Neurogenetic — the USC Epilepsy Care Consortium, the USC Viterbi College of Engineering, and the USC Davis College of Gerontology, in addition to different universities and medical facilities.