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Deep brain stimulation generates new adult neurons, restores cognitive and affective functions in mice with Alzheimer’s disease

Apr. 17, 2023.
1 min. read. . 1

Breakthrough research with mice may help Alzheimer's disease patients in the future

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Amara Angelica

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Amara Angelica is Mindplex Senior Editor

Optogenetic laser beam zaps genes in light-sensitive proteins in brain cells to monitor and control their activity precisely, using light signals. (Credits: Sabbi Lall | McGovern Institute for Brain Research, McGovern Institute.)

Deep brain stimulation of new adult neurons helps restore cognitive and non-cognitive functions in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease, investigators report In a paper published April 6 in the journal Cell Stem Cell.

They were surprised to find that “activating only a small population of adult-born new neurons was enough to make a significant contribution to these brain functions,” said senior author Juan Song, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Zapping neurons to rescue memories and emotions

“Patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) exhibit progressive memory loss, depression, and anxiety, accompanied by impaired adult hippocampal neurogenesis,” the investigators note. But by using optogenetics, deep brain stimulation of the suprammamillary nucleus (SuM), which is located in the hypothalamus, was able to modify the neurons. “Activation of SuM-enhanced adult-born neurons (ABNs) rescues memory and emotion deficits in these AD mice.”

The hypothalamus helps manage body temperature, hunger and thirst, mood, sex drive, blood pressure and sleep.

Citation: Ya-Dong Li, Yan-Jia Luo, Ling Xie, Dalton S. Tart, Ryan N. Sheehy, Libo Zhang, Leon G. Coleman, Xian Chen, Juan Song. Activation of hypothalamic-enhanced adult-born neurons restores cognitive and affective function in Alzheimer’s disease. Cell Stem Cell, 2023; 30 (4): 415 DOI: 10.1016/j.stem.2023.02.006 (open-access).

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