BEIJING, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) — Chinese and British scientists mapped out how humans’ interneurons, a pivotal type of neuron that enables advanced human activities, develop in infancy, providing clues for the treatment of mental and developmental issues.
The study, published on Friday in the journal Science, reported two populations of precursor human interneurons with features that do not seem to be shared with rodents.
It revealed how the human brain developed diverse interneurons that render humanity’s unique advanced cognitive competence, according to the study.
There are two main classes of brain cells in the cerebral cortex: excitatory and inhibitory. The “inhibitory” interneurons deliver a neurotransmitter called GABA to inhibit the brain when it is overexcited. Their anomaly can result in autism, depression, schizophrenia or epilepsy.
Researchers from the Institute of Biophysics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing Normal University and King’s College London used single-cell sequencing technology to obtain the detailed messenger RNA information of interneurons in the first to the early second trimester of human embryos.
They have found that humans are born to have diverse interneurons that lay a foundation for human’s rich sentiments and advanced self-recognition.
Those abilities are hard-wired into a human’s brain, owing to a diverse molecular regulation mechanism in the brain’s ganglionic eminence where the interneurons grow, according to the study.
Duan Shumin, a professor with School of Medicine of Zhejiang University, who is not affiliated with the study, said the cell lineage of interneurons in the embryonic period opened a new front for the research, diagnosis and treatment for schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.