Spinal chord injuries represent a serious and irreversible handicap that is sadly frequent in our society. Because of the permanent break in the nervous connections between the brain and the organs and muscles, such injuries impair their movement inducing atrophy and deterioration while they disturb organic functions.
The pioneering studies carried out by Santiago Ramón y Cajal established that while nerve cells from the peripheral nervous system (PNS) have the capacity to repair themselves, the same does not apply to adult brain cells and spinal cord cells from the central nervous system (CNS). The difference is not in the nerve cells themselves but in the cellular enviroment that gives them support - the glial cells. These cells are involved in the transmision of nerve impulses and produce myelin. Schwann cells (a variety of glial cell) in the peripheral nervous system (PNS) provide factors that contribute to the regeneration of the axons whereas the glia of the CNS do not have such a nurturing role. For this reason, one of the strategic experimental approaches for the regeneration of spinal chord neurons consists in altering their cellular enviroment by introducing cells that create a supportive environment for axon regeneration in the damaged area. The glial cells that surround the axons in the olfactory bulb (OBG) are a promising example because they promote axon regeneration in the CNS.
In an experiment using paraplegic rats, it was found that 8 months after a transplant treatment in a transected spinal chord using OBS, axon regeneration was taking place and sensorial and motor recovery was perceived in behavioural tests. The investigation recently published in the Journal of Physiology (London) [J Physiol 586.10 (2008) pp 2593–2610], with the collaboration of scientists from the “Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa” (CSIC-UAM), Córdoba University, and the “Instituto de Biomedicina de Valencia” (CSIC), has analysed for the first time the muscular characteristics of paraplegic animals treated with an OBG transplant and compared them with those of untreated paraplegic animals and healthy control animals.
The study exhibits a high correlation between the functional capability shown by the animals in behavioural tests and some biochemical parameters. The parameters measured differentiate the muscular characteristics of paraplegic and healthy animals and they established that animals treated with the transplant had more similar characteristics to the healthy animals than the untreated paraplegic animals. In spite of the global effect of OBG transplants, only 3 of the 9 treated animals (and none of the untreated) showed near normal muscle characteristics. This could imply that maintaining the muscular phenotype might rely on the interaction between the transplanted cells and other factors.
One the possible factors that affect the result could be the physical exercise to which the animals were subjected. This could be significant since it is well known that rehabilitation treatment aids regenerative therapies. Both voluntary and assisted exercise stimulates synaptic plasticity and the regenerative capabilities of neurons of the CNS as well as re-establishes adequate trophic factors. The role of the OBG in establishing a nurturing cellular environment for axon regeneration could induce adaptation in the local spinal circuits that favours the conservation of muscular properties and automatic contractions even while the damaged neural pathways are not fully recovered.
Oficina de Cultura Científica | alfa
Two Group A Streptococcus genes linked to 'flesh-eating' bacterial infections
25.09.2017 | University of Maryland
Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity
22.09.2017 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
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...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
25.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
25.09.2017 | Health and Medicine
25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy