Failing neural plasticity, the ability of the brain to adapt and continue creating new neurons, seems to be important in aging. Here researchers investigate the ability of some forms of stem cell transplant to boost the pace of neurogenesis, the creation of neurons:
Neurogenesis occurs throughout life but significantly decreases with age. Human umbilical cord blood mononuclear cells (HUCB MNCs) have been shown to increase the proliferation of neural stem cells (NSCs) in the dentate gyrus (DG) of the hippocampus and the subgranular zone of aging rats, but it is unclear which fraction or combination of the HUCB MNCs are responsible for neurogenesis.
To address this issue, we examined the ability of HUCB MNCs [to] increase proliferation of NSCs. [We] injected HUCB cells intravenously in young and aged [rats] and examined proliferation in the DG at 1 week and 2 weeks postinjection. HUCB-derived [cells] increased NSC proliferation at both 1 and 2 weeks while also enhancing the density of dendritic spines at 1 week and decreasing inflammation at 2 weeks postinjection. Collectively, these data indicate that a single injection of HUCB-derived T cells induces long-lasting effects and may therefore have tremendous potential to improve aging neurogenesis.