How the brain repairs itself after a stroke

Posted on October 13, 2014

Strokes are caused by blood vessels in the brain getting blocked by a clot — this causes nerve cells to die. The death of vital brain cells can lead to devastating effects on people’s thinking, motor and sensory abilities.

Researchers in Sweden have found that after a stroke, support cells, known as astrocytes, start to form new nerve cells in the brain.

This research induced strokes in mice, then used genetic methods to determine that the astrocytes were forming immature nerve cells, which were ultimately maturing. It is the first time that astrocytes have been shown to have the capacity to start a process that leads to the generation of new nerve cells after a stroke.

One of the major tasks now is to explore whether astrocytes are also converted to neurons in the human brain following damage or disease. If the new mechanism also operates in the human brain and can be potentiated, this could become of clinical importance not only for stroke patients, but also for replacing neurons which have died, thus restoring function in patients with other disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease.

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Source material from PSY Blog