Posted on November 11, 2016 · Posted in Brain Injury

A new study sheds light on some of the after-effects of a traumatic brain injury. After a TBI, your brain may start to repair itself innately by activating neural stem cells that lay dormant before. Jinhui Chen, PhD of the Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine, Department of Neurological Surgery, discovered a protein complex that mediates the proliferation of neural stem cells.

protein complex

This photo represents neural stem cells in a microscopic photo. Neural stem cells tend to proliferate after a TBI, and is mediated by the protein complex mTORC1. (Flickr / Creative Commons / Joseph Elsbernd)

The protein complex is abbreviated to mTORC1 and controls protein synthesis. The study has shown the mTORC1 is activated in neural stem cells after a TBI. Inhibiting the protein complex mTORC1 would decrease the effect of injury on stem cell proliferation.

Neural stem cells have the ability to remain dormant for long periods of time. After a traumatic brain injury, these cells become rapidly activated to enter the cell cycle. However, a lot still needs to be learned about this before it can be used as a targeted therapeutic intervention.

The hippocampus is a particularly vulnerable part of the brain that is affected after a traumatic brain injury. This damage results in learning and memory problems that are common symptoms after a TBI. An FDA-approved drug that could work against cell death does not yet exist.

Neural stem cells may be a vital component to truly understanding this issue. They are essential to producing new cells in the hippocampus, which is vital to learning new things and remembering.

Although stem cells are activated naturally after a TBI, there still remains problems with learning and memory after a brain injury. This is one indication that there is still more to be learned about neural stem cell proliferation. It also potentially opens an avenue for therapeutic targets.

Since the study proved that mTORC1 mediates neural stem cell proliferation, the protein complex may be a potential therapeutic target in a clinical setting. The researchers also say that their research could potentially help stroke patients who also suffer damage to the hippocampus.

(See our blog about Stem Cells Having the Potential to Help Stroke Victims.)

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447