It's a known fact that our diet plays a major role in the development and sustenance of brain health. Healthy foods have a positive effect and unhealthy foods may bring down the functioning of the brain. But, how does it actually happens, wasn't really clear till date. A team of researchers set out to study the effects of nutrient availability on neural progenitor cell proliferation, which has not been understood so far. One reason for this lack of understanding is that it is difficult to study animals before they are born. So, the scientists at Scripps Research conducted a study with tadpoles, which flourish and develop outside the womb of their mother.
The team was able to find how brain cells respond to good nutrition or the lack of it, which aimed at improving prenatal care in humans and may also help in current research in the lab on the role of neural stem cells in recovery from brain injury. The findings of the study appeared in the journal ‘Development'.
Cell biologist Caroline McKeown, PhD, a senior staff scientist in the neuroscience lab of Hollis Cline, PhD, and lead author of the study says "We know a lot of these fundamental cellular events are conserved across animal species, so it's possible that mammalian species are also capable of this kind of resilience to prenatal nutrient deprivation."
During the study, the scientists observed the neural progenitor cells and saw that they would divide when the nutrients reached them. This means that the cells halt their progression under the stress of starvation.
"Studying the ability of tadpoles to respond to environmental uncertainties helped increase our understanding of conserved cellular events controlling brain development," McKeown added.