Jasmin T. Tanaja

Biological Sciences

Jasmin Tanaja, recognizing the importance of advancements in stem cell research, began work on her own project in Professor LaFerla’s lab. Her study is the first to show that stem cells can help improve cognitive performance after a focal brain lesion targeted specifically to a neuronal subpopulation. She describes her research experience to be one of “uncovering another mystery of science,” and feels fortunate to have been a part of its discovery. Jasmin followed this research by beginning a new clinical research project on emergency medicine at the UCI Medical Center. She hopes to follow her years at UCI by moving on to graduate school. triangle.gif (504 bytes)




Neuronal and synaptic losses are prominent in most clinical conditions. Many experiments have used site-specific lesioning methods to mimic such conditions. These approaches may cause non-specific damage, affect multiple cell types, or cause loss of cells. To study the effect of a targeted neuronal lesion, we generated a novel transgenic mouse model in which it is possible to ablate specific types of neurons by a system of induction. This approach takes advantage of the tet-off system to drive the expression of diphtheria toxin A-chain (DTA), which relies mainly on the presence or absence of a tetracycline analog—in our case doxycycline—to deactivate or activate the expression of DTA respectively. Post induction, neural stem cells (NSC) were transplanted in the hippocampal region of the mice. After histological and behavioral assessment, we found that the neural stem cells were multipotent, and differentiated into astrocytes and oligodendrocyte precursors, although a smaller number differentiated into neurons. Analysis indicated percentages of differentiation as follows: 1.78% ± 0.515 neurons, 15.39% ± 6.76 astrocytes, and 17.07% ± 3.49 oligodendrocyte precursors. Behaviorally, the NSC-transplanted-mice performed significantly better than the controls in hippocampal-dependent tests. These transplanted neural stem cells show therapeutic potential to improve cognitive deficit. triangle.gif (504 bytes)

back.gif (221 bytes) next


Faculty Mentor                                                                                                                

Frank M. LaFerla

School of Biological Sciences

Neurological diseases have devastating consequences for the quality of life, and among these diseases, perhaps none is as dire as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), which robs individuals of their memory and cognitive abilities, such that they are no longer able to function in society or even interact with their family members. AD is the most common cause of dementia among the elderly and the most significant and costly neurological disorder. Surprisingly, it has not yet been established whether neural stem cells can play a role in ameliorating cognitive decline. This study provides the first experimental evidence that neural stem cells can indeed restore cognitive deficits, and therefore opens up novel therapeutic approaches for treating cognitive decline associated with neurological disorders. triangle.gif (504 bytes)

back.gif (221 bytes)

If you wish to view the paper in its entirety, please select the link given to the PDF file. pdf_logo.gif (126 bytes) [05_tanaja.pdf]

If you wish to download the Adobe Acrobat Reader,
please go to Adobe’s website (

Back to Journal 2007 Index

Copyright © 2007 by the Regents of the University of California.  All rights reserved.