Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The accumulation of sugar in neurons may explain the origin of several neurodegenerative diseases

22.10.2007
A phenomenon considered healthy for cells, such as the accumulation of long chains of glucose (glycogen), which tissues store for energy purposes, is harmful for neurons.

Published in the latest issue of Nature Neuroscience, this finding has been made by a team of Spanish researchers led by Joan J. Guinovart, director of the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and senior professor at the University of Barcelona (UB), and Santiago Rodríguez de Córdoba, research professor at the Centro Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC).

This research has been possible thanks to close collaboration between these two groups, who, in addition, have been assisted by neurobiology expert Eduardo Soriano, who is also a researcher at IRB Barcelona and senior professor at the UB.

The researchers made the discovery while studying Lafora disease, a rare pathology that causes irreversible neurodegeneration in adolescents and for which no treatment is available. Lafora disease generally presents as epileptic seizures between 10 to 17 years of age and later on as myoclonus (involuntary twitching of the arms and legs). Its evolution is marked by progressive degeneration of the nervous system which reduces the patient to a terminal vegetative state ten years after its onset. This disease is inherited from parents who are carriers of mutations in one of the two genes associated with the pathology. These genes are called laforin (named after Dr. Lafora) and malin (from the French expression “le grand mal”, used to refer to epilepsy). The disease is characterized by the accumulation of abnormal inclusions, known as Lafora bodies, in neurons.

... more about:
»Lafora »glycogen »laforin »neurodegenerative »neurons

The study describes the function of laforin and malin, explains the origin of Lafora bodies and identifies how the neurodegenerative process of this disease arises. Joan J. Guinovart, expert in glycogen metabolism explains, “We have observed that laforin and malin act jointly as “guardians” of glycogen levels in neurons and are stimulated by the degradation of the proteins responsible for glucose accumulation. In a situation in which either of the two genes loses its function, these proteins are not degraded, glycogen accumulates and thus neurons deteriorate and cell suicide (apoptosis) ensues.

The conclusions of the study have increased expectations of finding a strategy to treat Lafora disease. One strategy consists of identifying a molecule with the capacity to inhibit glycogen synthesis in neurons.

The breakthroughs on the mechanisms that trigger and block the production of glycogen may be of great use to address the study of other neurodegenerative and neurological diseases. “We have extended the hypothesis of the study to other pathologies in which glycogen has been detected in neurons because our results suggest that this molecule is a part of the problem” comments Guinovart.

Spanish research contributions to Lafora disease have significantly improved our understanding of this pathology. These contributions date back to observations made by the physician Gonzalo Rodríguez Lafora, one of Santiago Ramón y Cajal’s students, who, in 1911, discovered the presence of “Lafora bodies” in the nervous system of patients with the disease that carries his name. In 1999, the team headed by Rodríguez de Córdoba, together with José María Serratosa, identified the laforin gene.

Sònia Armengou | alfa
Further information:
http://www.pcb.ub.es

Further reports about: Lafora glycogen laforin neurodegenerative neurons

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie

nachricht Study overturns seminal research about the developing nervous system
21.04.2017 | University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

Im Focus: Quantum-physical Model System

Computer-assisted methods aid Heidelberg physicists in reproducing experiment with ultracold atoms

Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...

Im Focus: Glacier bacteria’s contribution to carbon cycling

Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.

A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New quantum liquid crystals may play role in future of computers

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A promising target for kidney fibrosis

21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

Light rays from a supernova bent by the curvature of space-time around a galaxy

21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>