Can Scientists Leverage Mysterious Mossy Cells for Brain Disease Treatments?

UNC School of Medicine neuroscientist Juan Song, PhD, and colleagues show how specific brain cells communicate with adult neural stem cells, a discovery that could open new investigations into potential treatments for some neurological disorders and brain injuries.

Can Scientists Leverage Mysterious Mossy Cells for Brain Disease Treatments? click to enlarge Juan Song, PhD

July 26, 2018

CHAPEL HILL, NC – A small population of brain cells deep in a memory-making region of the brain controls the production of new neurons and may have a role in common brain disorders, according to a study from scientists at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

The scientists, who published their work in Neuron, showed that “mossy cells” in the hippocampus regulate local stem cells to control their production of new neurons, which is important for normal learning and memory, stress response, and mood regulation. Such neurogenesis in the adult brain is disrupted in many common conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, traumatic brain injury, and some forms of epilepsy. Targeting mossy cells to reverse such disruption may therefore offer a new strategy for treating these conditions.

“The hope is we could manipulate even a small number of mossy cells to restore hippocampal neurogenesis and related brain functions,” said study senior author Juan Song, PhD, assistant professor of pharmacology and member of the UNC Neuroscience Center.

~excerpt from article by Mark Derewicz on SOM Newsroom.  read full article..

Co-First authors on the Neuron paper were UNC postdoctoral fellows Chia-Yu Yeh, PhD, and Hechen Bao, PhD. Other authors include UNC assistant research professor Brent Ariscan, PhD; UNC Neuroscience graduate student Luis Quintanilla; former postdoc Ting He, PhD; all from the Song lab; as well as NIH scientists Xia Mao, PhD, and Wei Lu, PhD; and scientists from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland Jonathan Moss, PhD, Frederic Casse, PhD, Elias Gebara, PhD, and Nicolas Toni, PhD.