"Researchers all over the world are intensively searching for new treatments. One interesting possibility is that of activating stem cells in the damaged brain such that the brain can be repaired and regain its function", says stem cell researcher Jonas Faijerson from the Sahlgrenska Academy.
Stem cells are immature cells that reside in selected regions of the adult brain. These cells can develop either into nerve cells or into other cells that are important in the brain, such as astrocytes. Astrocytes are the most abundant cell type in the brain, and they play an important role when the brain is damaged.
The study shows that activated astrocytes release substances that activate stem cells within the brain. "We have shown that a very interesting hormone known as 'TRH' is released in large amounts after a stroke, and that this hormone can not only protect from damage but also lead to the activation of stem cells", says Jonas Faijerson.
The stem cells also release survival factors to the surrounding brain tissue when the brain is injured or diseased. The study describes the identification of a completely unknown survival factor, which the researchers have named "pentinin". "Pentinin protects brain cells from several of the effects that a stroke causes. Both TRH and pentinin are interesting candidates for the development of new treatment strategies for patients with stroke. It is possible that these substances could be given in tablet form, as a drop, or as a nasal spray, when a stroke is suspected", says Jonas Faijerson.
The Swedish Research Council