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Study sheds light on how signals from CSF help drive neural development

April 08, 2016

The team then focused its attention on the CSF, showing that the Igf2 concentration in CSF regulates the rate of stem-cell proliferation. Moreover, they found that the concentrations of Igf2 and hundreds of other CSF proteins change over time, peaking near birth in rats and mice.  The Igf2 peak occurs at the time when the cortex is most actively developing.

The researchers explored these dynamic fluctuations by floating young brains in old CSF and old brains in young CSF.

"We found that the stem cells really behaved according to what CSF they were in," said Walsh. "The CSF is really telling the brain what to do. It's telling the stem cells to either divide a lot if you're in the embryonic brain, or if you're in the adult brain, just rest, and we'll tell you if we need you."

A better understanding of the Igf2 signaling pathway, the stem cell's apical complex proteins that interact with it, and the temporally-driven changes in the CSF could lead to increased understanding of some brain tumors,  including glioblastoma.

"It may be that too much Igf2 in the CSF sets up an environment that promotes tumorigenesis, adding to genetic changes in the brain tumor stem cells themselves," said Walsh.

In principle, the CSF is accessible for treatment purposes, so it could potentially be altered to inhibit brain tumorigenesis. This study did not explore direct clinical applications, however.

"One insight we found is that the CSF seems to have all the stuff in it that you need to regulate stem cells ?? to keep them alive and to tell them whether to proliferate or rest," said Walsh. "That gives us the potential to really understand much more clearly how we want to regulate those stem cells, acting through this medium. Hopefully we can soon get a better understanding of how to control brain stem cells so we can use them for many experimental or therapeutic applications."

SOURCE Children's Hospital Boston