so Far it was thought that the adult brain does not form new neurons, but now, several studies have shown the opposite. Among these, there is one of Boldrini. "It is seen that the elderly are emotionally and cognitively more capable than you thought: can produce thousands of new neurons, equal to that of the young, and in their brain the volume of the structure that controls emotions called the hippocampus, is characteristic of a young brain. The only difference is the vascularity, less widespread in the older brain is, " says Boldrini. The conclusions of a study that Boldrini published a few months ago in the scientific journal Cell. The reserve of neurons
This scholar made in Italy, and her research group have spent entire days, months, counting the reserves of immature neurons are ready to act to 16 years of age as 80. We already knew that the brain of the mice continue to produce new neurons in old age but not that this happens also in man. And this road is open from Boldrini may in time lead to new therapies for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. Or to understand why some people develop depression and others do not. To carry out his studies Boldrini has decided to leave Italy and work at Columbia University, where there is a bank of over 5000 brains kept below zero. And there began the long work. Starting as a first to analyze the brain-without pathologies of the donors, between the ages of 14 and 79 years of age.
“The neurogenesis occurs as follows: before becoming adult neurons, the neural stem pass through different stages. In each stage of maturation, expressing a protein that is different. Thanks to antibodies that stick selectively on the different protein and become fluorescent, we can identify the neurons in their intermediate stages of training. And we have seen that in the hippocampus, an area crucial for learning and memory consolidation, in each moment of my life between 14 and 79 years of age, the immature neurons are in constant number: about 30,000”. And what does this prove? “Since these neurons remain in their state for a few weeks, it means that you do regenerate constantly. Also towards the eighty-year-old,” says Boldrini. The elderly and "active" This research thus helps to understand why some people, even the very old, very “active” from an intellectual point of view. But it must be said that even the most active at an advanced age, lost a few shots. The memory down for all, even in those who are extremely shiny even in old age. As ever seen that the brain regenerate? “The only difference is the vascularity. In the course of our analysis, we have seen that with age decreases the capillaries that nourish the neurons. This then leads to a slowing down of cognitive abilities. It is a thing that you could expect, but had not yet been identified so precisely”. Other research on the brain, But not all researchers share the idea that the brain regenerate in time: a study of the University of California, published in Nature, argues to the contrary. “This is not so. In 1998, a Swedish study on terminally ill patients between 50 and 70 years of age has inoculated in neural stem a chemical tracer. The same substance, called BrdU, was found in adult neurons time after the death. This means that they were neurons generated ex-novo. In addition, a subsequent search of 2014, of the Karolinska Institute, has estimated that in the hippocampus, we produce about 700 new neurons per day. We studied the brains of healthy, donor at the time of death had no signs of cognitive decline or dementia and had not taken drugs with effects on the brain. All of these studies have been able to highlight that the brain rigenra. You do not know well, however, the condition of the brains examined in the study of the University of California that says the opposite. Among other things, the ‘Brain bank’ of Columbia University that I used to get to my conclusions, is the one that has the most diagnostic information and personal data on the donors. Also in the study of Nature are studied in sections of 30 microns of an organ such as the hippocampus, which is a length of 4 inches: if you do not find new neurons by analyzing a small part of the hippocampus, it is said that there are”.
The Brain bank, And for his passion for the human brain that Boldrini is coming in the Usa. And chose to work at Columbia to be able to access the “Brain bank”. Brings us in a room next to his study, where young researchers work under the microscope. On the table there are dozens of test tubes, ready to be examined. For a study of this type, we need a lot of data. “Here - says Boldrini - you can study the brain under a microscope. In Italy it was difficult. Colleagues told me that according to the law director could look only for diagnostic purposes. Not to do research. I didn't want to stop me, and for this I left for the Usa. I knew that the Columbia John Mann had an amazing collection of brains.”
Alzheimer's disease and depression Now Boldrini aims to deepen your research and to search for medical applications. And you focus a lot on Alzheimer's, and depression. “We're going to compare these brains healthy with those suffering from Alzheimer's disease and cognitive decline. The differences - she states - may suggest new targets for drugs that do not currently exist; We are only at the beginning". Then salutes quickly. With little time, others brains are waiting.
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