Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Epilepsy at the Molecular Level

10.02.2016

Researchers study the link between malformations of the cerebral cortex and the occurrence of the neurological disease

Why does a structural irregularity in the temporal lobe make humans more susceptible to epileptic seizures?


The detail of the cerebral cortext shows the myelin fibers that form an electrically insulating layer around the nerve cells (green/violet). Source: Cerebral Cortex/Oxford University Press

Experts have been searching for the answer to this question for a long time. A group of scientists at the Freiburg University Medical Center consisting of members of the University of Freiburg’s Cluster of Excellence Brain Links–Brain Tools has published a study involving a comparison of nearly 30,000 genes in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

The team describes pathological processes in the brain tissue in developmental disorders of the cerebral cortex. The study is the largest of its kind to date. The authors of the study see the research as an excellent example of cooperation between fundamental researchers and clinicians.

Pathological changes in the cerebral cortex referred to as “focal cortical dysplasias” are present in approximately 25 percent of epilepsies limited to particular brain areas. Patients with these dysplasias are often resistant to antiepileptic drugs. The most effective treatment is currently to remove the affected areas in an operation, after which the epileptic seizures generally stop happening.

Up to now, however, researchers could only speculate about how the abnormal structure of the cerebral cortex is linked at the molecular level to the occurrence of epilepsy. To investigate this connection, Freiburg neurobiologist Prof. Dr. Carola Haas and her team compared gene expression in malformed brain tissue with that in epileptic, non-malformed tissue.

To do so, they used so-called microarrays, a chip technology originally developed for the semiconductor industry. In this way, Haas and her colleagues succeeded in demonstrating that the factors less frequently expressed in diseased tissue are primarily those responsible for the formation of myelin. Myelin is an electrically insulating layer surrounding nerve cells. Additional analyses showed that the structure of this layer appears to be broken open and in disarray.

This could be an indication that the conduction of the stimuli is considerably impaired in the affected brain region. “The disposition for epilepsy in patients with the malformation investigated in our study could potentially be explained by a resulting electrical over-excitability of this nerve fiber sheath,” says Haas. The group at the Department of Neurosurgery now aims to conduct further experiments to investigate what precisely happens in the malformed tissue during the development of myelin.

Original publication:
C. Donkels, D. Pfeifer, P. Janz, S. Huber, J. Nakagawa, M. Prinz, A. Schulze-Bonhage, A. Weyerbrock, J. Zentner, C. Haas (2016): Whole Transciptome Screening Reveals Myelination Deficits in Dysplastic Human Temporal Neocortex. In: Cerebral Cortex., pp. 1–15.

Contact:
Prof. Dr. Carola Haas
Section for the Foundations of Epileptic Diseases
Department of Neurosurgery of the Medical Center – University of Freiburg
Phone: +49 (0)761/270-52950
E-Mail: carola.haas@uniklinik-freiburg.de

Levin Sottru
Science Communicator
Cluster of Excellence BrainLinks–BrainTools
University of Freiburg
Phone: +49 (0)761/203-67721
E-Mail: sottru@blbt.uni-freiburg.de

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.pr.uni-freiburg.de/pm/2016/pm.2016-02-09.18-en?set_language=en

Rudolf-Werner Dreier | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Cnidarians remotely control bacteria
21.09.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Immune cells may heal bleeding brain after strokes
21.09.2017 | NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Comet or asteroid? Hubble discovers that a unique object is a binary

21.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cnidarians remotely control bacteria

21.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?

21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>