Xinyu Zhao, PhD, makes connection between neurogenesis and learning deficits in fragile X syndrome
May 3, 2011
Xingu Zhao, PhD
A recent study led by Xinyu Zhao, PhD, a new investigator at the Waisman Center and associate professor in the Department of Neuroscience, indicates a connection between neurogenesis—the process of generating neurons—and learning deficits in mouse models of fragile X syndrome. Fragile X is the leading inherited cause of intellectual disability and the source of many learning disabilities. The syndrome results from the mutation in a single gene on the X chromosome that prevents the production of fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP). Zhao's research indicates a connection between levels of the FMRP gene for neurogenesis and learning. Using stem cells and transgenic mouse models where the levels of FMRP could be adjusted, Zhao demonstrated that deficits in FMRP resulted in poor learning of hippocampal-dependent tasks. The learning of tasks returned to normal once FMRP was restored.
Her findings suggest that promoting neurogenesis using stem cells may have therapeutic potential for people with fragile X syndrome and other neurological disorders.
Zhao cites research on the connections between FMRP and Alzheimer's disease by Waisman investigators Jim Malter, MD, Michael Wilhelm, MD, and Cara Westmark, PhD, in her study.
For the complete article go to: http://www.alzforum.org/new/detail.asp?id=2776