TSU neuroscientists and colleagues from Belgium and the USA have created a non invasive tool to track the movement of young neurons. To do this, scientists mark new brain cells with a special marker that can be seen on MRT (magnetic resonance tomography). Viral vectors - inactivated viruses that can easily enter the cell, act as delivery couriers of markers. The new tool, created with the support of the Russian Science Foundation, will help to predict the dynamics of patient recovery and assess the pace of rehabilitation after stroke and traumatic brain injury.
The researchers tested the new tool on rats. They simulated ischemic cerebral stroke in laboratory animals, introduced a genetic tag, and tracked the process of neurogenesis. The rats' brains were scanned on the most powerful high-field magnetic resonance imaging machine in Russia, designed for research on small laboratory animals.
According to the neurobiologist, this method cannot be used in humans, because an increase in ferritin content affects cell metabolism. But the new approach helps to understand and trace in animals how the brain recovers from stroke, injury, and other diseases. This knowledge will help create new therapies and predict brain recovery after severe disorders.
In the near future, scientists to analyze a large amount of information obtained during the experiment. This will make it possible not only to reveal new data on neurons but also to evaluate the functional characteristics of vectors, to choose the most effective and safe ones for changing the functions of neurons.
The new method makes it possible to monitor other cells of the nervous system that cannot yet be seen on MRT. For example, with ischemia, a glial scar appears around the focus - a kind of barrier that encloses the area in which the dead cells are located. Until a certain time, until the immune cells remove the "garbage" in the form of dead neurons, this scar is even useful, but later it interferes with the germination of axons (processes along which nerve impulses travel) and the restoration of the activity of the central nervous system.
As part of further research, neuroscientists of TSU intend to obtain a whole series of important data to find out the functional characteristics of new neurons and how fully they are included in the work of the neural network.