Neurodegenerative diseases are progressive and incurable and are becoming ever more prevalent. To study whether neural stem cell can reactivate or rescue functions of impaired neurons in the human aging and neurodegenerating brain, we co-cultured postmortem slices from Alzheimer patients and control participants with rat embryonic day 14 (E14) neural stem cells. Viability staining based on the exclusion of ethidium bromide by intact plasma membranes showed that there were strikingly more viable cells and fewer dead cells in slices co-cultured with neural stem cells than in untreated slices. The presence of Alzheimer pathology in the brain slices did not influence this effect, although the slices from Alzheimer patients, in general, contained fewer viable cells. Co-culturing with rat E14 fibroblasts did not improve the viability of neurons in the human brain slices. Since the human slices and neural stem cells were separated by a membrane during co-culturing our data show for the first time that neural stem cells release diffusible factors that may improve the survival of aged and degenerating neurons in human brains.
- Alzheimer's disease
- Neuronal reactivation
- Rat embryonic neural stem cells
- Tissue culture