Scientists from the VIB Center for the Biology of Disease, KU Leuven identified the molecules responsible for the neurodegenerative process in the human brain by analyzing the nerve tissue of zebrafish
embryos, a study that is expected to advance knowledge about the regulation of stem cells and further insights into Alzheimer's disease
The lead investigator, Evgenia Salta, studied a zebrafish molecular brain model and was able to demonstrate a previously unknown regulatory process for the development of nerve cells. The Notch signaling pathway is the route that controls the maturation of stem cells during embryonic development. Salta examined the expression of genes that create the foundation of the Notch signaling pathway, which is partially controlled by microRNAs (miRNAs).
"The human brain contains stem cells, which are cells that have not matured into nerve cells yet, but do have the potential to do this," explained Salta. "We specifically studied how miRNA-132 regulates the Notch signaling pathway in stem cells."
While stem cells play an important role in the development of the brain, the miRNA-132 work as regulators of the adult human brain plasticity. The adult human brain endues stem cells, however, these are limited and when afflicted by a disease of the nervous system that causes death of nerve cells, as Alzheimer's, the miRNA-132 activity