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 Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds
26.05.2017 | Cornell University

nachricht How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system
26.05.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can the immune system be boosted against Staphylococcus aureus by delivery of messenger RNA?

Staphylococcus aureus is a feared pathogen (MRSA, multi-resistant S. aureus) due to frequent resistances against many antibiotics, especially in hospital infections. Researchers at the Paul-Ehrlich-Institut have identified immunological processes that prevent a successful immune response directed against the pathogenic agent. The delivery of bacterial proteins with RNA adjuvant or messenger RNA (mRNA) into immune cells allows the re-direction of the immune response towards an active defense against S. aureus. This could be of significant importance for the development of an effective vaccine. PLOS Pathogens has published these research results online on 25 May 2017.

Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) is a bacterium that colonizes by far more than half of the skin and the mucosa of adults, usually without causing infections....

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

How herpesviruses win the footrace against the immune system

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Water forms 'spine of hydration' around DNA, group finds

26.05.2017 | Life Sciences

First Juno science results supported by University of Leicester's Jupiter 'forecast'

26.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>