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Astrocyte response to motor neuron injury promotes structural synaptic plasticity

New research, from Cambridge Neuroscientists at the John van Geest Centre for Brain Repair led by Dr Andras Lakatos (pictured right), describes a novel mechanism that helps rewiring neuronal networks in the brain following remote neuronal insults. The process is called plasticity that can contribute to functional recovery. They found that a specialised glial cell type called an astrocyte, which reacts to distant injuries, re-expresses a molecule called thrombospondin-1 that is important for the re-arrangement and recovery of neuronal connections. In summary, this research, published in Nature Communications earlier this month, reveals a new regenerative role for "reactive astrocytes" that were often regarded as inhibitory cells for "brain repair" in the past, and it highlights potentially important new targets for maintaining neuronal circuits in brain injuries and neurodegenerative disorders.

Posted on 23/07/2014

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