A novel technique for measuring tiny, rapid-fire secretions in the brains and mouthparts of fruit flies (drosophila) is providing insights into the beneficial effects of eating less — information that ultimately could help people suffering from neuromuscular disorders.
Using the method, researchers uncovered never-before-seen brain chemistry that helps explain why fruit flies genetically manipulated to mimic conditions such as Parkinson's disease and myasthenia gravis are more vigorous and live longer when fed a restricted diet.
Published in June by Aging Cell, the research was conducted by a team from the School of Medicine and the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio.
Why eating less may be therapeutic
Senior author Benjamin Eaton, Ph.D., assistant professor of physiology, says the results demonstrate how limiting calories may be therapeutic for people with various syndromes.
Lead author Joel Rawson, Ph.D., and the Eaton team developed a novel system to analyze the impact of diet on life span and motor behavior as well as on neurotransmission, which is believed to underlie most neurological disorders in humans.
Flies on the low-calorie diet showed a 100 percent increase in the release of brain chemicals, which are called neurotransmitters, from their neurons. These chemicals carry signals from one nerve cell to another across gaps called synapses. The brain has millions of synapses that are believed to be the critical structures required for normal brain function. Diseases such as Parkinson's harm them irreparably.Firing up the muscle activity
The observation that diet could directly affect the amount of neurotransmitter secreted by the neuron was a novel observation that had not been seen previously.
"People have seen that diet has effects on the nervous system, but the nuts and bolts of what it is doing to neurons have not been established," Dr. Eaton said. ""We believe we have shown a novel and important effect."
Probing the fly proboscis
The team genetically engineered a single pair of motor neurons to develop neurodegenerative disease, resulting in a decrease of the flies' ability to extend the proboscis, which they use to gather food. The team then dissected the head to locate the appropriate muscles on the proboscis and quantified the neurotransmitter activity occurring there, which continues to take place even after death.
"We went into the very muscles that that these motor neurons controlled and analyzed neurotransmission using electrodes," Dr. Eaton said. "We showed diet can rescue proboscis extension by increasing the amount of neurotransmitter released. This suggests that diet could be an important therapy for improving muscle function during motor diseases such as ALS."Next up is to define the proteins in neurons that are being altered by diet restriction, he said.
On the Web and Twitter
For current news from the UT Health Science Center San Antonio, please visit our news release website or follow us on Twitter @uthscsa.
About the UT Health Science Center San Antonio
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, one of the country's leading health sciences universities, ranks in the top 3 percent of all institutions worldwide receiving federal funding. Research and other sponsored program activity totaled $231 million in fiscal year 2011. The university's schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry, health professions and graduate biomedical sciences have produced approximately 28,000 graduates. The $736 million operating budget supports eight campuses in San Antonio, Laredo, Harlingen and Edinburg. For more information on the many ways "We make lives better®," visit www.uthscsa.edu.
Will Sansom | EurekAlert!
A novel socio-ecological approach helps identifying suitable wolf habitats
17.02.2017 | Universität Zürich
New, ultra-flexible probes form reliable, scar-free integration with the brain
16.02.2017 | University of Texas at Austin
In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport
Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...
The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.
The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".
Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine
20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine