Stem cell discovery: Astrocytes could repair stroke brain damage

Featured Article
Academic Journal
Main Category: Stroke
Also Included In: Neurology / Neuroscience;  Stem Cell Research
Article Date: 29 Jul 2013 – 0:00 PDT

The UC Davis team faced an immediate challenge, however – there was little existing understanding on which specific types of astrocyte might have therapeutic potential in brain disorders. Also, the principal reason astrocytes had not been investigated in this context was the difficulty in producing them to the purity levels needed for stem cell therapies.

Dr. Wenbin Deng added that astrocyte-centered therapy “could also be used for many other nervous system disorders.” He said the following could be included in a list of potential targets for therapy:

Two weeks after transplantation, the rats receiving Olig2PC-Astros navigated the maze significantly quicker than the other groups. This group also exhibited higher levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein associated with nerve growth and resilience.

Contact Our News Editors

When exposed to hydrogen peroxide, both types of astrocytes provided some protection but the Olig2PC-Astros showed greater antioxidant effects. Further investigation indicated higher levels of the protein Nrf2, which increases antioxidant activity in mouse neurons.

A collaborative study published in Nature Communications suggests that astrocytes can do far more than simply support nerve cells (neurons).

Written by Nick Valentine

Valentine, Nick. “Stem cell discovery: Astrocytes could repair stroke brain damage.” Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 29 Jul. 2013. Web.
29 Jul. 2013. <>

Note: Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a health care professional. For more information, please read our terms and conditions.

Overlooked astrocytes

All opinions are moderated before being included (to stop spam). We reserve the right to amend opinions where we deem necessary.

Both of these actions may lead to better functional recovery in patients.”

Please note: If no author information is provided, the source is cited instead.

‘Surprising twist of fate’

I will be excited to see this work extended to other brain disease models such as Huntington’s disease and others, where it is known that BDNF has a positive effect.”

Cell cultures were also used to measure what protection the astrocytes could provide to neurons against the oxidative stress that contributes to brain injury following stroke.

“In this study, we report a surprising twist of fate,” Dr. Wenbin Deng told MNT. He added:

The UC Davis team decided to use a transcription factor protein called Olig2 to differentiate human embryonic stem cells into astrocytes. This approach generated a previously undiscovered type of astrocyte called Olig2PC-Astros – it was almost 100% pure.

How astrocyte effects were measured

“This exciting research uncovers the brain-protective powers of stem cell-derived astrocytes.

Astrocytes may help to limit the spread of damage after an ischemic brain stroke in patients, and may also help to regenerate and repair damaged brain cells.

Jan Nolta, director of the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures, commented: “Dr. Deng’s team has shown that this new method for deriving astrocytes from embryonic stem cells creates a cell population that is more pure and functionally superior to the standard method for astrocyte derivation.”

Stem cell researchers have discovered that astrocytes may prove useful against stroke and other brain disorders.

Stem cell research has focused until now on developing stroke treatments using therapeutic neurons to stimulate electrical impulses in the brain, and restore tissue that has been damaged by oxygen deprivation. Dr. Wenbin Deng said astrocytes had often been considered just “housekeeping” cells that merely support nerve cells.

Researchers used three groups of rats with ischemic brain injuries to compare the effects of Olig2PC-Astros, another type of astrocyte called NPC-Astros, and no treatment. The animals were placed in a water maze to assess their learning and memory.

“Our novel findings are that highly purified Olig2+ progenitors can give rise to astrocytes and that these astrocytes derived from highly purified Olig2+ progenitors are different from the astrocytes described in any previous work.”


If you write about specific medications or operations, please do not name health care professionals by name.

“But they’re actually much more sophisticated,” Dr. Wenbin Deng explained. “They are critical to several brain functions and are believed to protect neurons from injury and death. They are not excitable cells like neurons and are easier to harness. We wanted to explore their potential in treating neurological disorders, beginning with stroke.”

Copyright: Medical News Today

Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today
stroke section for the latest news on this subject.

“hESC-derived Olig2+ progenitors generate a subtype of astroglia with protective effects against ischaemic brain injury,” Nature Communications, 23 July 2013. Full text
Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

In short, the team’s quest for a sufficiently pure astrocyte had, by serendipity, also led them to isolate a previously unknown astrocyte with particularly therapeutic properties.

Wenbin Deng, senior author of the study and associate professor of biochemistry and molecular medicine at UC Davis in California, told Medical News Today:


Additionally, the Olig2PC-Astros cells remained in brain areas where they were transplanted, did not differentiate into neurons or other cell types and formed no tumors.

privacy policy for more information.

Jan Nolta added:

For any corrections of factual information, or to contact the editors please use our feedback form.

Please send any medical news or health news press releases to:

“The functional improvement seen in the brain injury models is impressive, as are the higher levels of BDNF.

Astrocytes – neural cells that form the blood-brain barrier and so control what can and cannot enter the brain from the blood supply – have previously been overlooked in this area of stroke research.

Current ratings for:
Stem cell discovery: Astrocytes could repair stroke brain damage

Share this post:

If you are a possible stem cell patient, find ways to get a stem cell cure to have much better health and youthfulness

If you're a medical doctor and would like to learn and incorporate various stem cell treatments into your medical practice, be sure to get the proper stem cell medical training

Recent Posts