Stem cell problems may contribute to Down syndrome's disabilities

Credit:  Microsoft images
Defective stem cell regulation may contribute to the intellectual and physical disabilities that affect people with Down syndrome, according to researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine.  Researchers observed “defects in stem cell growth and self-renewal” and found these defects could be lessened by “reducing the expression of just one gene on chromosome 21.”

“There appear to be defects in the stem cells in all the tissues that we tested, including the brain,” said senior author, Michael Clarke, MD.  “We believe Usp16 (a gene) overexpression is a major contributor to the neurological deficits seen in Down syndrome.”

“This gene is clearly regulating processes that are central to aging in mice and humans,” said Clarke.  Significantly, this is the first study associating Down syndrome with stem cells.

The authors think this study suggests that drugs, which “slow the rate of stem cell use”, could reduce physical and learning disabilities, advanced aging and increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in people with Down syndrome.

The researchers studied cells from both mouse models and humans.  The study, “Usp16 contributes tosomatic stem-cell defects in Down’s syndrome” appears in the journal Nature.

More information on this study is available from Stanford University.

Source: Stanford University




©Mary M Conneely T/A Advocacy in Action

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