May 08, 2020 10:30
An enzyme in fat metabolism regulates the lifelong activity of stem cells in the brain. An international research team led by Sebastian Jessberger, professor at the Institute for Brain Research at the University of Zurich (UZH), has now shown this for the first time in a study. A specific mutation in the genetic information of this enzyme, the so-called fatty acid synthase, limits the cognitive performance in affected people.
The researchers experimentally changed the genetic makeup of mice and organ-like cell cultures of the human brain so that the enzyme of lipid metabolism showed exactly the mutation that was found in people with cognitive deficits. “Our results provide evidence of the functional relationship between fat metabolism, stem cell activity and cognitive performance,” explains Jessberger in a media release from UZH.
According to the scientists, their methodology represents a blueprint for researching the activity of brain stem cells and their role in cognitive processes in detail, thereby “better understanding poorly understood diseases”.
“We also hope to be able to control stem cell activity therapeutically in the future so that it can also be used to repair the brain – for example, for the treatment of cognitive diseases or diseases in which nerve cells die, such as Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s,” says Jessberger. mm