Activating dormant neural stem cells in the adult and aged brain

Quiescent neural stem cells (NSCs) are the source of new neurons in the human brain. The process of neurogenesis begins with activation of the quiescent pool of NSCs. However, the ability of NSCs to activate declines with age, resulting in reduced new neuron formation in the adult brain.

Little is known about the mechanisms underlying the transition from quiescence to activation and why it deteriorates with age. But Carney-affiliated faculty member Ashley Webb and her team are trying to identify the chromatin‐level mechanisms that regulate NSC activation by using a combination of genetic and genomic approaches.

Specifically, they want to determine the transcriptional and epigenetic mechanisms responsible for quiescent NSC maintenance and activation during aging. These experiments will illuminate the intrinsic mechanisms that govern NSC activation and why it is reduced in the adult.

The Webb lab