Crayfish Turn Blood Cells into Brain Cells
by Christie Lepisto
… Scientists (have been) studying crayfish, which continuously regenerate neurons in their sensitive smelling organs and exposed eyestalks. Studying the process, known as neurogenesis, in crayfish could help us understand how humans maintain their brain health, and where the process goes wrong.
Scientists found that crayfish have a natural circuit for harboring blood cells similar to our white blood cells in a ‘nursery’ where they are turned into neurons. The cells are converted to have properties of stem cells, which allows them to be reprogrammed to become neurons.
What surprised scientists in this discovery is the link between the immune system and the regeneration of neurons. The blood cells converted to neurons in crayfish, called hemocytes, are produced by the immune system, in a process that parallels the production of white blood cells that are the front-line troops of the human immune system. In the words of co-auther Dr. Irene Söderhäll, of Uppsala University in Sweden..
(read more: TreeHugger)
photograph by Coniferconifer/Flickr