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Neurons grow best in a triangular shape

How do neurons grow? How to grow more new neurons in your brain? Korean researchers have discovered curious geometrical preferences of nerve cells: neurons form axons to the tops of a triangular cell — and the sharper the angle of the triangle that borders the cell is, the better it is for the cells.

The neurons in our brain are connected to a great number of nervous circuits. Signals are transmitted from cell to cell through axons and dendrites. It is possible to study them in the form in which they are intertwined in the brain, but is it possible to simplify the task and recreate the nervous chain in the cell culture? Is it possible to grow neurons so that their processes stretch in the right direction for a person and connect to the right cell?

According to scientists from the South Korean KAIST Institute, this goal can be achieved by growing neurons in triangular holes. Obviously, it is possible to force the processes of nerve cells to grow in the direction necessary for scientists, if we restrict the cell itself - to make it so that it cannot release axons in any direction that suits it. In their experiments, the authors tried to figure out which cell shape best suits the neuron.

They planted rat hippocampal cells in several patterns: two of them were covered with stellate cells, the rest offered the cells "individual rooms" in the form of a circle, a triangle, a square, a pentagon and a hexagon. It turned out that it is best to control the neurons with a triangle: the cells easily and fairly quickly formed an axon in the direction of one of the vertices of the triangular cell. In an article published in the Journal of Neural Engineering, scientists write, the sharper the angle of the triangle is, the more willingly the neurons pull the axon in its direction.

It is not clear why such geometrical tastes of nerve cells are exist. However, this property can be used when modeling neural networks of a given construction: you can force a neuron to extend a process toward a specific cell, if their triangular cells are appropriately located relative to each other.


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