‘Rosehip Neurons’ – New Study Shows Existence of a New Kind of Cell in Human Brain

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Rosehip neurons
ImageSource: www.sciencemag.org

While majority of researchers might have foreseen and taken the mouse model as the perfect model for the research related to several human neurological diseases, the same might not be the best option according to one of the new researches. The new study concerning the “Rosehip Neurons” have left researchers and scientist from all across the world intrigued and questioning.

The question of what sets the human brain apart from the brain of other animals might finally have an answer to it, the keyword being MIGHT. Investigator of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, Ed Lein, who is also the lead author of the new study regarding the new brain cell stated that it is even hard for them to describe what differentiates the human brain and makes it special. He further stated that studying the brain from the cellular levels and with the advancing technology, there are even tools to do so.

The new study (R), which was published on August 27, 2018, Ed Lein and colleagues shed some light on the possible answer to the tough question. Lein, along with his co-author Gábor Tamás, Ph.D., who is a neuroscientist at the University of Szeged in Szeged, Hungary, traced the presence of a new variant of human brain cell which has never been witnessed in mice or the other well studied laboratory animals.

Tamás along with a University of Szeged’s doctoral student, Eszter Boldog, explained this new neuron’s structure as something that each brain cell’s axons form around the cell centre. Not just that, the name has been derived as such, primarily because of the appearance of it being like that of a rose which has just shed all of its petals. These neurons are believed to be classified under the class of inhibitory neurons (GABAergic) which act upon putting brakes on a number of other neuronal activities in the brain.

The discovery of this neuron doesn’t necessarily exert its presence in just humans because the same will need further studies and researchers on the other animals. But, the fact that these neurons are not present in the laboratory mice is a breakthrough, primarily because of the fact that it doesn’t ascertain that the researches conducted on the “human model brains” in the labs might not be the ideal match.

Convergence of different techniques

In this conducted study, the associated researchers made use of tissue samples from the postmortem brains of two different individual aged around 50 years. The research was conducted by separating the top layer of the cortex which is one of the most complex structures found in nature.

There have been two different approaches to this study, one led by Tamás where they conducted the research based on classical approaches to neurosciences in which they conducted detailed researches about the cell shapes and sizes and the electrical properties. The approach at Allen Institute, Lein and his team were working on demonstrating the suite of genes which make the human brain cells different from one another.

Tamás, who went to the Allen Institute to present a paper, quickly discovered that they were both working on similar prospects but with different approaches. When they found that they were converging on the same cell type but with different approaches, that’s when they decided to collaborate.

With this convergence, the researches went on to find the rosehip neurons and their unique presence in the brain which helps turn on a set of genes, something that hasn’t been witnessed in the mouse brain during the research. Not just that, a group of researchers from the University of Szeged stated claiming that the rosehip neurons also form synapses with the pyramidal neurons which is found in a different part of the cortex in the human brain.

This is one of the first studies that culminates and combines different techniques and approaches to study the cell types. One of the senior scientists at the Allen Institute of Brain Science claimed saying that while these technique on their own are fruitful and beneficial, the combined efforts help provide with an extended and vivid understanding of what the cell might be doing. It provides with the complete picture of how the cell is potentially working in the brain.

Study on human models

One of the most unique things about the rosehip neurons is the fact that the rosehip neurons attach to just one part of their specific cellular partner which is indicative of the fact that it is controlling the information flow from one neuron to the other in a very organized and specialized way.

Unlike the other inhibitory neurons, the rosehip neurons are believed to have a different approach to their mode of action. These neurons are much like something that inhibits the functions of the brain in specialized spots and occasions unlike doing the same haphazardly.

With these preliminary findings out of the way, the next step in the way of the researchers is to source the presence of the rosehip neurons in various other parts of the brain and to detect their roles in the various kinds of brain and neurological disorders. Even though the scientists are still not ascertain of these neurons being unique to just humans, their absence in the rodents and laboratory mice is what is expected to be a strike against the “ideal model” of the rodents in the various neurological findings.

Modeling the functions of the human brain based on that of that of the animal system is often not the perfect groundwork, primarily because of the fact that the brain output is completely different from that in the animal models and that is what distinguishes us humans from the other animals. So, with this new study highlighting the presence of rosehip neurons in human brain, the blindly vested trust on the animal model for neurological study might face a slow down