Stem Cells Enhance Memory and Combat Inflammation in Mice

Typically, when discussing potential treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease, the focus tends to be on amyloid proteins and the plaques that form in the brain. Yet, recent studies suggest that the disease is influenced by a broader range of factors, such as neuroinflammation and metabolic imbalances. In a significant breakthrough, a team from Michigan Medicine has demonstrated that transplanting human neural stem cells into a mouse model of Alzheimer’s not only enhances memory but also diminishes neuroinflammation. This research highlights a promising new direction for therapeutic approaches.

The transplantation of human neural stem cells into the brains of mice with Alzheimer’s Disease yielded positive results, even though amyloid plaque levels did not change. This supports the idea that targeting neuroinflammation could be an effective therapeutic approach, separate from strategies focusing on amyloid plaques. Furthermore, the treatment normalized inflammation in the microglia, the brain’s primary immune cells, which become hyperactive in Alzheimer’s Disease. As the disease advances, the inflammatory activity of microglia is believed to play a role in the loss of neurons.

The researchers implanted neural stem cells into the memory-related regions of genetically modified mice that carried mutations linked to familial Alzheimer’s Disease. Eight weeks after the transplantation, both the test group and the control group of mice were subjected to the Morris water maze, a test used to evaluate spatial memory and learning abilities.

Researchers discovered that mice with Alzheimer’s Disease, after receiving stem cell transplants, showed restored learning capabilities that matched those of control mice with normal memory functions. Further analysis using spatial transcriptomics, a technique for mapping gene expression across different brain regions, indicated that over 1,000 genes had their expression normalized in the memory centers of the Alzheimer’s mice post-transplantation.

When examining changes in gene expression within microglia, researchers found that genetic markers associated with Alzheimer’s Disease progression had returned to levels nearly identical to those in control mice. This indicates a decrease in neuroinflammation and a potential slowing of the disease.

The scientists emphasized that the positive results observed following the stem cell transplantation need further exploration in mouse models before progressing to studies in larger animals and, ultimately, human trials. This research is crucial and further reinforces the potential of stem cell therapies in treating neurodegenerative diseases. These preliminary studies are essential initial steps toward developing stem cell treatments.

To view the original scientific study click below:
Human neural stem cells restore spatial memory in a transgenic Alzheimer’s disease mouse model by an immunomodulating mechanism