Shedding light on adult brain stem cells

Armen SaghatelyanA CERVO research centre team demonstrates the role of light and calcium ions in neural stem cell activation in adulthood

It has long been believed that neurons in the human brain develop only during the period from embryogenesis to adolescence. It is now known that in some areas of the brain, neural stem cells remain and give rise to neurons even in adults. “These stem cells can remain quiescent for long periods of time and we still know very little about the mechanisms that make them go from a quiescent state to an activated state,” says Armen Saghatelyan, from the Université Laval and the CERVO Brain Research Centre.

In an article published in the journal Cell, the researcher and his collaborators lift part of the veil surrounding this question. The results they present suggest that it will one day be possible to exert some control over the activity of these stem cells, whether to compensate for the loss of neurons caused by brain damage or neurodegenerative diseases or to inhibit the unbridled multiplication of neurons that leads to brain cancers. For the moment, the interest of our work is fundamental,” insists Professor Saghatelyan. “We are still a long way from clinical applications.” (…continued)

Read the full press release (in French) on the ULaval News website: Un peu de lumière sur les cellules souches du cerveau adulte

Read the original scientific article in Cell: A. Gengatharan, Malvaut, S., Marymonchyk, A., Ghareghani, M., Snapyan, M., Fischer-Sternjak, J., Ninkovic, J., Götz, M., et Saghatelyan, A.,  Adult neural stem cell activation in mice is regulated by the day/night cycle and intracellular calcium dynamics , Cell, 2021.