University of GothenburgThe formation of novel nerve cells inside the brain seems to have been regulated by a peptide known as C3a. A new research from the Sahlgrenska Academy has revealed that this C3a may directly affect the stem cells’ maturation into nerve cells. Moreover, it appears to be crucial for the migration of new nerve cells via the brain tissue.

New nerve cells are believed to have been formed in the brain all through our lives. Furthermore, the brain’s stem cells seemed to have been formed in the hippocampus and the subventricular zone, an area subsequent to the fluid-filled cavities i.e. lateral ventricles.

Stem cells from the subventricular zone supposedly mature into nerve cells in the olfactory bulb. However, they may also be able to migrate out into the brain in order to replace nerve cells that have been damaged or destroyed.

Even though the research has been performed by means of mice and cultured cells, it could possibly result into a novel medicine for human beings. This medicine apparently can be provided to patients who have suffered from a stroke or other disorders that damage or destroy the nerve cells.

“Our research findings show that it could be possible to use molecules that are similar to the peptide C3a to boost the formation of nerve cells and stimulate the replacement of nerve cells lost due to injury or illness,” says senior lecturer Marcela Pekna who headed the research group at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.

The peptide C3a is known to be generated by means of the activation of the complement system. This complement system appears to be a group of proteins in the blood that is vital for the body’s immune defense.

Pekna further said, “Our research group was the first in the world to show that the complement system also plays an important role in the repair and regeneration of the brain. This was a surprising discovery that opened up a whole new field of research.”

Stem cell researchers anticipate in finding novel ways of treating stroke, Parkinson’s disease and other disorders that result from the nerve cells failing to function as they should. These new methods could perhaps be obtained by discovering more about how new nerve cells are formed and what controls their migration.

The findings of the research ‘Complement-derived Anaphylatoxin C3a Regulates In Vitro Differentiation and Migration of Neural Progenitor Cells’ have been published in the journal, Stem Cells.