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VASNICHE Report Summary

Project ID: 322692
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Israel

Final Report Summary - VASNICHE (The vascular stem cell niche and the neurovascular unit)

Blood vessels play multiple roles in the maintenance of organ homeostasis other than their 'traditional' role in tissue perfusion. Importantly, blood vessels are considered to be an integral, indispensable component of cellular niches where adult stem cells reside and greatly impact stem cell biology, thus providing a rationale to the contention that certain vascular manipulations might be harnessed for improving the performance and output adult stem cells. The VASNICHE project examined this proposition per neuronal stem cells (NSCs) engaged in continual production of new neurons in the adult hippocampus (adult neurogenesis) enhancing cognitive functions. Making use of a unique experimental platform design for manipulating the niche vasculature, it was shown that expansion and rejuvenation of the niche vasculature is on its own sufficient to greatly boost adult neurogenesis. Moreover, adult hippocampal neurogenesis is known to naturally decline with age, partly due to progressive exhaustion of the NSC reservoir, but increased neurogenesis following rejuvenation of the niche vasculature is long lasting, not associated with accelerated NSC depletion and, remarkably, greatly attenuating age-related decline in the capacity to produce new neurons.

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