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?
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.
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.
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
Cluster of Excellence BrainLinks–BrainTools
University of Freiburg
Phone: +49 (0)761/203-67721
Rudolf-Werner Dreier | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Cnidarians remotely control bacteria
21.09.2017 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Immune cells may heal bleeding brain after strokes
21.09.2017 | NIH/National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
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...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
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...
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...
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...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
21.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.09.2017 | Life Sciences
21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine