Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Taking Shape

Lab-grown stem cells can become neuron-like cells without dividing

16 October 2020

Taking Shape

When it comes to multitalented cells, stem cells reign supreme with their ability to turn into any kind of cell type. Researchers now take a closer look at the sequence of events that play out when stem cells become nerve cells. Using fluorescence microscopy and scanning electron microscopy (SEM), they imaged human periodontal ligament stem cells (hPDLSCs) as they developed into neural-like cells, noting the changes in shape. They found that the neural-like cells went through a sequence of shape changes similar to that seen when nerve cells from rodent brains are grown in a dish, notably without cell division. This included changes in the shapes of their nuclei, the growth of long projections, and physical interactions between these projections similar to nerve cells in the body forming synapses, as captured using SEM (pictured). These findings add more pieces to the puzzle of how stem cells turn into nerve cells.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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