New publication: Aggrecan is essential for perineuronal nets and brain plasticity

How our mind can develop and acquire new knowledge, while at the same time preserve memories across a lifetime has been a longstanding question within neuroscience. The new research, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, shows that aggrecan is an essential for the assembly of perineuronal nets and regulation of brain plasticity.

Aggrecan directs extracellular matrix mediated neuronal plasticity.

Brain plasticity, is crucial in learning and memory formation, and insufficient levels of plasticity are a major problem in recovery from brain injury. A key element in regulating brain plasticity has turned out to be a matrix protein structure outside the neurons termed the perineuronal net, which is made up of a meshwork of proteins and sugars that enwraps the surface of certain neurons.

Kristian Lensjø (C) UiO
Inside the net: PNN (red) Synapsin (green) 

A joint collaboration between researchers from the University of Oslo, Norway, and the University of Cambridge, UK, have shown that a single component of the perineuronal net, the main component of cartilage called aggrecan,  is an essential regulator of brain plasticity.

Without aggrecan, the perineuronal nets never form and the brain stays in a high plasticity state throughout life. If aggrecan is removed late in life, the nets disappear and the brain returns to a state of high plasticity similar to that of a young brain in development.


Aggrecan directs extracellular matrix mediated neuronal plasticity. The Journal of Neuroscience.

Daíre Rowlands*, Kristian K. Lensjø*, Tovy Dinh, Melissa R. Andrews, Sujeong S. Yang, Torkel Hafting, Marianne Fyhn, James W. Fawcett, Gunnar Dick (2018).   *equal contribution                      

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Tags: brain, Plasticity, memory, perineuronal nets By hafting
Published Oct. 5, 2018 12:09 PM - Last modified Oct. 5, 2018 12:09 PM