Achieving a new method of nanoscopic imaging, the scientific team studied the myelin sheath, the membrane surrounding nerves that is compromised in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). The study is published in this week's online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
"Myelin membranes are a class of biological membranes that are only two molecules thick, less than one millionth of a millimeter," said Jacob Israelachvili, one of the senior authors and professor of chemical engineering and of materials at UCSB. "The membranes wrap around the nerve axons to form the myelin sheath."
He explained that the way different parts of the central nervous system, including the brain, communicate with each other throughout the body is via the transmission of electric impulses, or signals, along the fibrous myelin sheaths. The sheaths act like electric cables or transmission lines.
"Defects in the molecular or structural organization of myelin membranes lead to reduced transmission efficiency," said Israelachvilli. "This results in various sensory and motor disorders or disabilities, and neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis."
At the microscopic level and the macroscopic level, which is visible to the eye, MS is characterized by the appearance of lesions or vacuoles in the myelin, and eventually results in the complete disintegration of the myelin sheath. This progressive disintegration is called demyelination.
The researchers focused on what happens at the molecular level, commonly referred to as the nanoscopic level. This requires highly sensitive visualization and characterization techniques.
The article describes fluorescence imaging and other measurements of domains, which are small heterogeneous clusters of lipid molecules –– the main constituents of myelin membranes –– that are likely to be responsible for the formation of lesions. They did this using model molecular layers in compositions that mimic both healthy and diseased myelin membranes.
They observed differences in the appearance, size, and sensitivity to pressure, of domains in the healthy and diseased monolayers. Next, they developed a theoretical model, in terms of certain molecular properties, that appears to account quantitatively for their observations.
"The discovery and characterization of micron-sized domains that are different in healthy and diseased lipid assemblies have important implications for the way these membranes interact with each other," said Israelachvili. "And this leads to new understanding of demyelination at the molecular level."
The findings pave the way for new experimental methods for early detection, diagnosis, staging, and possible treatment of pathological tissues that are precursors to MS and other membrane-associated diseases, according to the authors.
All of the work reported in the paper was completed at UCSB, although some of the authors have moved to other institutions. In addition to Israelachvili, the other authors are Dong Woog Lee, graduate student in UCSB's Department of Chemical Engineering; Younjin Min, now a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Engineering; Prajnaparamitra Dhar, now assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Kansas; Arun Ramachandran, now assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry at the University of Toronto; and Joseph A. Zasadzinski, now professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Minnesota.
Gail Gallessich | EurekAlert!
Make way for the mini flying machines
21.03.2018 | American Chemical Society
New 4-D printer could reshape the world we live in
21.03.2018 | American Chemical Society
In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.
Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...
Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.
They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...
A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...
For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.
In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...
Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...
19.03.2018 | Event News
16.03.2018 | Event News
13.03.2018 | Event News
21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
21.03.2018 | Materials Sciences
21.03.2018 | Life Sciences