Self-repairing mechanism helps to preserve brain function in neurodegenerative diseases

Neurogenesis, the self-repairing mechanism of the adult brain by creating new neurons, can help to preserve brain function in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Prion, and Parkinson’s, new research has found.
The progressive degeneration and death of the brain, occurring in many neurodegenerative diseases, is often seen as an unstoppable and irrevocable process.
But now, a research team, led by Diego Gomez-Nicola, DPhil, from the Centre for Biological Sciences at the University of Southampton, has detected increased neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus (part of the brain system controlling learning and memory, the hippocampus) that partially counteracts neuronal loss.
Using a model of prion disease from mice, the research identified the time-course of the generation of these newborn neurons and how they integrate into the brain circuitry.
While this self-repairing mechanism is effective in maintaining some neuronal functions at early and mid-stages of the disease, it fails at more advanced phases. This highlights a window of time in which potential therapeutic intervention could preserve the beneficial effects of enhanced neurogenesis.