Neuroreplacement of degenerative cholinergic cells
Cholinergic neurons, which are closely associated with memory function, selectively degenerate in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Dr. Qu's previous research has demonstrated that transplanted human neural stem cells (hNSCs) migrate to the proper sites and differentiate into the proper cell types to replace lesioned cholinergic neurons in the brain. Therefore, the transplantation of hNSCs may be a good candidate as a cholinergic cell replacement therapy for AD. Dr. Qu has found that transplanting hNSCs to aged (24-month-old) rats improved behavioral impairment as measured in the Morris water maze. He was also able to show that neurons and glia derived from the transplanted cells were present in several areas of the host brain. Dr. Qu's behavioral research is now investigating the effects of hNSC transplantation on the cognitive function of brain-lesioned animals using several different types of mazes. It is hoped that this research will provide valuable data to assess the effectiveness of human neural stem cell transplantation as a means to replace degenerative cholinergic neurons in the central nervous system.