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Sunday, 14 August 2011 20:44

Astrocytes Developed from Embryonic Stem Cells

With the development of astrocytes from embryonic stem cells the basis is laid for the development of cell-based in vitro tests and analysis methods which allow investigation of the effects of toxic substances on the brain.

In the context of his dissertation work at the Doerenkamp-Zbinden chair of Prof. Dr. Marcel Leist, University of Constance, Philipp Kügler successfully generated astrocytes from embryonic stem cells. The glial cells in the central nervous system are mainly made up of astrocytes, whose name derives from the shape of their cell type which is like a branched star. The prospective use of astrocytes in in vitro neurotoxicology is meaningful primarily because microglial cells gained from mammals have been used until now. These microglial cells serve as an active immune defence in the nervous system whereas astrocytes do not have this function.

One of the main functions of astrocytes is supplying neurons with energy taken from blood capillaries and, further, they can transform themselves into neurons if required. They have a decisive influence on the brain´s neurons. Without astrocytes, neurons would create meaningless synapses. For this reason it is important to investigate the effects of toxic substances on astrocytes separately.

In his research, Kügler has already shown that astrocyt testing is an important aspect in measuring the effects of substances on the brain.

The junior researcher also succeeded in obtaining a pure astrocyte cell culture without the disturbing influence of other cell types like microglial cells.

More information:

Universität Konstanz
Kommunikation und Marketing
78457 Konstanz
Telefon: 07531 / 88-3603
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Philipp Kügler
Universität Konstanz
Graduiertenschule Chemische Biologie
78457 Konstanz
Telefon: 07531 / 88-5074
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