A central problem in Alzheimer's disease is to understand how Aβ affects the brain's biology, and how it contributes to neurodegeneration. A diverse array of mechanisms have been proposed, including direct toxicity, generation of oxygen radicals, and inflammation. In a poster (Abstract 181.11) presented today, Barbara Tate and colleagues at Boston Children's Hospital report a novel effect: Aβ may trigger signals that attract stem cells. Using adult rats, the researchers injected embyronic neural stem cells into one of the fluid-filled ventricles in the brain, and injected Aβ peptide into the contralateral ventricle. The transplanted stem cells migrated over to the Aβ-filled regions, whereas they did not migrate in control animals that had received a sham injection. Tate speculates that microglial activation, triggered by Aβ, is involved in signalling to the stem cells.—June Kinoshita

Reference:
"Migration of neural stem cells to Alzheimer's-like lesions in an animal model," by B.A. Tate, D. Wezanski, A. Marciniak and E.Y. Snyder.

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