Study of brain circuitry, synaptic plasticity and behaviour. (Photo: University College London)
Neurogenerative brain capacity of fish under study
Wednesday, January 30, 2013, 04:00 (GMT + 9)
Researchers from the Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology and Animal Behaviour, Faculty of Natural Sciences (FCEN) at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) found that fish have a much higher capacity than other animals to generate neurons in their adulthood.
According to the experts consulted by Telam agency, the study of the reasons for this condition may help define strategies for the treatment of nervous system injuries and neurodegenerative diseases.
"In mammals, the ability to generate new neurons in adulthood occurs in certain regions of the brain, whereas fish capability extends to the whole organ, throughout its life," explains Matias Pandolfi, researcher of National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (Conicet) and director of the Laboratory.
"This ability of fish to generate neurons, which is, for example, four times higher than a mouse, is due to the fact that they grow throughout their lives," he adds.
"The key point is to determine why the other animals, including humans, have lost this condition during the evolution and try to analyze how and why these processes occur," says the specialist.
According to the researcher, some special cells, called radial glial cells, are responsible for the formation of new neurons and it is known that they exist primarily in the embryonic stage in mammals.
Furthermore, Pandolfi said UBA’s researchers determined that estrogens, which are hormones produced in the ovary, "are also produced in the brain" and "play an important role in protecting neurons and in their training."
They also found that the brain "maintains its functions almost intact for many hours out of the fish's head."
"This allows us to study the performance of different types of neurons and record its electrical activity for long periods with the intact organ, which is not possible in other vertebrate groups, with which scientists always works with isolated portions of the brain," says the Conicet’s researcher.
Furthermore, the study of the factors involved in the production of new neurons could help develop strategies for the treatment of nervous system injuries and neurodegenerative diseases.
"Our goal is to demonstrate that research does not have to be necessarily based on mammals, with the typical mice or monkeys. There are features that are similar in all animals," Pandolfi stresses.
By Analia Murias