Around 16,000 people in Switzerland suffer a stroke every year. Often the result of a sudden occlu-sion of a vessel supplying the brain, it is the most frequent live-threatening neurological disorder. In most cases, it has far-reaching consequences for survivors. Often the stroke sufferers have to cope with handicaps and rehabilitation is a long process. The brain does, however, have a “considerable capacity for regeneration” explains Lukas Bachmann from the Brain Research Institute of the University of Zurich. As member of Professor Martin Schwab’s research team, he found that the brainstem, the oldest region in the brain, could play an important role in recovery. The results have now been published in “The Journal of Neuroscience”.
The healthy half of the brain assumes control
A stroke in the cerebral cortex frequently leads to motor constraints of one half of the body, to what is known as hemiparesis. This is due to the loss of neuron pathways which transmit signals from the cortex to the spinal cord. As these pathways are crossed, the side of the body contralateral to the affected half of the brain is affected. The major impairments at the beginning are often only temporary and stroke sufferers can sometimes stage an amazing recovery. “The side of the body affected is increasingly controlled by the ipsilateral side of the cortex, i.e. the healthy side”, explains Lukas Bachmann. As the neuron pathways are crossed, this raised the following question for the neuroscientists: by which pathway are the signals rerouted from the motor cortex to the ipsilateral parts of the spinal cord?
Sprouting of neurons from the brainstem
In their study in mice the researchers in Martin Schwab’s team now demonstrate that the brainstem probably plays a key role in the rerouting of neural impulses. Images of the brain show that after a major stroke nerve fibers from specific core regions of the brain sprout into the area of the spinal cord that had lost its input after a stroke. “At the same time, more fibers sprout from the intact cortex into these same regions of the brainstem”, continues Lukas Bachmann. These changes in the neuronal circuits may mediate the non-crossed flow of nerve impulses after a stroke. “This could turn out to be a key mechanism which facilitates recovery after a stroke”, says the brain researcher. The scientists now want to use these findings to steer the sprouting of neurons in various areas of the brain by means of targeted therapy to maximise the recovery of motor functions.
Lukas C. Bachmann, Nicolas T. Lindau, Petra Felder, Martin E. Schwab: Sprouting of Brainstem–Spinal Tracts in Response to Unilateral Motor Cortex Stroke in Mice. The Journal of Neuroscience, February 25, 2014. Doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4384-13.2014
Bettina Jakob | Universität Zürich
Unexpected flexibility found in odorant molecules
27.06.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie
Newly-discovered signal in the cell sets protein pathways to mitochondria
27.06.2016 | Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
High resolution rotational spectroscopy reveals an unprecedented number of conformations of an odorant molecule – a new world record!
In a recent publication in the journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter...
Strands of cow cartilage substitute for ink in a 3D bioprinting process that may one day create cartilage patches for worn out joints, according to a team of engineers. "Our goal is to create tissue that can be used to replace large amounts of worn out tissue or design patches," said Ibrahim T. Ozbolat, associate professor of engineering science and mechanics. "Those who have osteoarthritis in their joints suffer a lot. We need a new alternative treatment for this."
Cartilage is a good tissue to target for scale-up bioprinting because it is made up of only one cell type and has no blood vessels within the tissue. It is...
Physicists in Innsbruck have realized the first quantum simulation of lattice gauge theories, building a bridge between high-energy theory and atomic physics. In the journal Nature, Rainer Blatt‘s and Peter Zoller’s research teams describe how they simulated the creation of elementary particle pairs out of the vacuum by using a quantum computer.
Elementary particles are the fundamental buildings blocks of matter, and their properties are described by the Standard Model of particle physics. The...
A year and a half on the outer wall of the International Space Station ISS in altitude of 400 kilometers is a real challenge. Whether a primordial bacterium...
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University have developed a way to swiftly and precisely control electron spins at room temperature.
09.06.2016 | Event News
24.05.2016 | Event News
20.05.2016 | Event News
27.06.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
27.06.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
27.06.2016 | Life Sciences