Neuronally yours

For many years, the idea has been promoted to the public that free radicals and oxidizing species are hazardous to health and a whole "antioxidant" industry has emerged to address this purported problem. However, such species are a key part of the immunological response and normal metabolic processes. Now, US researchers have demonstrated for the first time that neural stem cells must maintain high levels of reactive oxygen species in order regulate their normal self-renewal and differentiation processes. Although such species are harmful in stroke and in heart failure, the new findings, published this month in the journal "Cell Stem Cell" could have wide implications for studies of brain repair and abnormal brain development.