Jun 18, 2019 | Updated: 11:38 AM EDT

CD38 Gene Vital For Postnatal Development Of Cerebral Cortex

Apr 10, 2017 10:32 AM EDT

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Neurons and astrocytes
(Photo : Handout/Getty Images) Neurons (red) and astrocytes (green) in the human brain.

The brain consists of neurons and glial cells. When the glial cells show some abnormality in its development, it leads to illnesses as well as cerebral cortex that grows aberrantly. CD38 gene knockout is shown to cause the aberrant development of glial cells, especially astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. The CD38 gene is directly involved in the growth of cerebral cortex.

A recent study suggested the importance of glial cells for cerebral cortex development. When the brain develops, neurons, as well as, glial cells need to develop during the fetal phase as well as postnatal stages. The postnatal brain has neurons that put out long protrusions (axons and dendrites) that come together to form complicated networks that will exchange information. Glial cells give support to networking of neurons, so that information can be transmitted regularly, according to Medical Express. 

More than 50 percent of the brain's cells are glial cells. Their total count is three times that of neurons. While neurons were always studied for developmental disorders of the brain, current studies are focusing on glial cells. The CD38 gene is now thought to be significant for the postnatal development of the cerebral cortex.

The research team of Kanazawa University and Gunma University are probing developmental disorders with behavioral abnormalities in mice. While the earlier research showed that the CD38 gene knockout mice exhibited social abnormality as well as aberrant cerebral cortex development, current studies exhibit developmental abnormality of glial cells. Hence, glial cell development is vital for cerebral cortex development, according to Eurekalert.

It has been found that the CD38 gene is necessary for postnatal glial cell development. Those mice that had CD38 gene abnormalities also showed retarded glial cells, such as astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. Hence, the study shows that the CD38 gene has led to the accurate development of the glial cells, especially astrocytes. With astrocyte abnormality, there could be abnormal development of oligodendrocytes. Scientists are now hoping to further their research in order to learn about more brain development disorders such as autism, and how therapeutic techniques can be developed.

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