Cited research: J. Neurosci. 30, 6454–6460 (2010)

Certain drugs stimulate the generation of stem cells in particular regions of the brain, raising hopes that such compounds could help the brain to repair itself after damage. So far, however, it has been possible to assess the effects of these drugs only after use, by staining brain slices from dead animals.

To develop a way of monitoring stem cells in vivo, Michael Schroeter at the University Hospital of Cologne in Germany and his colleagues injected rats with a radiolabelled marker of cell proliferation. Using the imaging technique positron emission tomography, the researchers observed and measured the growth of the neural stem-cell population in live rats with normal (pictured) and diseased brains. They also quantified the expansion of certain stem-cell populations in response to drugs or surgically induced brain damage. L.O.-S.

Credit: M. A. RUEGER ET AL.