Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Study of Cat Diet Leads to Key Nervous System Repair Discovery

31.03.2009
Scientists studying a mysterious neurological affliction in cats have discovered a surprising ability of the central nervous system to repair itself and restore function.

In a study published today (March 30, 2009) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison reports that the restoration in cats of myelin — a fatty insulator of nerve fibers that degrades in a host of human central nervous system disorders, the most common of which is multiple sclerosis — can lead to functional recovery.

“The fundamental point of the study is that it proves unequivocally that extensive remyelination can lead to recovery from a severe neurological disorder,” says Ian Duncan, the UW-Madison neuroscientist who led the research. “It indicates the profound ability of the central nervous system to repair itself.”

The finding is important because it underscores the validity of strategies to reestablish myelin as a therapy for treating a range of severe neurological diseases associated with the loss or damage of myelin, but where the nerves themselves remain intact.

Myelin is a fatty substance that forms a sheath for nerve fibers, known as axons, and facilitates the conduction of nerve signals. Its loss through disease causes impairment of sensation, movement, cognition and other functions, depending on which nerves are affected.

The new study arose from a mysterious affliction of pregnant cats. A company testing the effects on growth and development in cats using diets that had been irradiated reported that some cats developed severe neurological dysfunction, including movement disorders, vision loss and paralysis. Taken off the diet, the cats recovered slowly, but eventually all lost functions were restored.

“After being on the diet for three to four months, the pregnant cats started to develop progressive neurological disease,” says Duncan, a professor of medical sciences at the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine and an authority on demyelinating diseases. “Cats put back on a normal diet recovered. It’s a very puzzling demyelinating disease.”

The afflicted cats were shown to have severe and widely distributed demyelination of the central nervous system, according to Duncan. And while the neurological symptoms exhibited by the cats are similar to those experienced by humans with demyelination disorders, the malady does not seem to be like any of the known myelin-related diseases of humans.

In cats removed from the diet, recovery was slow, but all of the previously demyelinated axons became remyelinated. The restored myelin sheaths, however, were not as thick as healthy myelin, Duncan notes.

“It’s not normal, but from a physiological standpoint, the thin myelin membrane restores function,” he says. “It’s doing what it is supposed to do.”

Knowing that the central nervous system retains the ability to forge new myelin sheaths anywhere the nerves themselves are preserved provides strong support for the idea that if myelin can be restored in diseases such as multiple sclerosis, it may be possible for patients to regain lost or impaired functions: “The key thing is that it absolutely confirms the notion that remyelinating strategies are clinically important,” Duncan says.

The exact cause of the neurological affliction in the cats on the experimental diet is unknown, says Duncan, who was not involved in the original study of diet.

“We think it is extremely unlikely that [irradiated food] could become a human health problem,” Duncan explains. “We think it is species specific. It’s important to note these cats were fed a diet of irradiated food for a period of time.”

In addition to Duncan, authors of the new PNAS study include Alexandra Brower of the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory; Yoichi Kondo and Ronald Schultz of the UW-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine; and Joseph Curlee, Jr. of Harlan Laboratories in Madison.

Terry Devitt | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.wisc.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>