Neural stem cells found in epileptic brain tissue

Neural stem cells found in different areas of the brain in people with epilepsy.
By Amy Wallace  |  Dec. 15, 2016 at 1:16 PM
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GOTHENBURG, Sweden, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Scientists from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden have found neural stem cells in epileptic brain tissue outside the areas where they normally reside.

Neural stem cells with the ability to form new neurons in the brain are normally found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain connected to learning and memory, and in the subventricular zone of the brain.

Among 14 patients who underwent surgery for epilepsy, eight had neural stem cells in brain tissue outside the hippocampus and subventricular zone.

"We have confirmed what earlier studies indicated, and gained new knowledge about molecular characteristics of these neural stem cells," Milos Pekny, professor at the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, said in a press release.

In people with epilepsy, an area of the brain stops responding to control signals -- due to developmental abnormality, tumor or stroke -- resulting in recurrent seizures.

For the study, surgeons, neurologists and neuroscientists worked together, following ethical approval and informed consent guidelines, to examine a small portion of brain tissue within minutes of its removal for a histopathological exam.

"About 60 percent of the patients had epileptic tissue that contained neural stem cells that could be converted into neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes (the three types of brain cells that neural stem cells can differentiate into) when they were later grown in the laboratory," Pekny said. "The knowledge gained in this study primarily helps to improve our understanding of the brain responses in epilepsy."

The study was published in Cerebral Cortex.

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