UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
It says neurons do not divide. Can we expect brain cancer due to division of neurons. Or are the brain cancer solely due to division of other cells in the brain?
Question Date: 2014-06-05
Answer 1:

Great question! You are right that cancer is due to rapid division of cells, that neurons don't usually divide after the brain forms, and that the brain has more cell types than just neurons. That's pretty impressive for someone your age. Brain cancer can come from cells other than neurons. For example, glial cells support neurons and help them work. They can become cancer cells. Cells that form linings, coverings, or glands in the brain can all form tumors, which can be cancerous.

Some cancers in the brain come from cells in other places in the body that travel to the brain.

Replacing lost or damaged neurons would seem like a good thing. Why do you think they don't usually divide?

You seem to have a promising future in a field like cell biology.

Thanks for asking,

Answer 2:

This is a very interesting question. While neurons in an adult mammal do not divide, there are many kinds of supporting cells in the brain, such as glial cells, blood vessel cells, and meningeal cells. Thus, brain tumors in adults could develop from these types of cells. However, it should further be noted that many tumors found in the brains of adults are actually the result of another types of cancers that have metastasized throughout the body, including the brain. As another note, while neuron cells do not actively divide, there is evidence that adult neurogenesis (neuronal cell production) is possible in some regions of the brain!

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use