Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Researcher finds altered cerebella in those with Down syndrome

25.08.2011
Accounts for poor motor skills, coordination

A scientist investigating why those with Down syndrome often have poor balance and motor coordination has found that key eye reflexes are substantially altered.

The findings by University of Colorado School of Medicine researcher Alberto Costa, MD, Ph.D., could lead to new tools to assess the effectiveness of new drugs and therapies aimed at improving quality of life for those with this genetic disorder.

"People with Down syndrome suffer various degrees of motor difficulty," said Costa, whose study was published last week in the journal, Experimental Brain Research. "They tend to walk later than their typical peers; they often lack balance and have low muscle tone and poor postural control."

That's likely because Down syndrome affects the optokinetic and vestibular systems of the brain. In a healthy brain, the vestibular system reacts to signals from neuroreceptors in the inner ear to produce responses to head movements. The optokinetic system uses visual information to produce eye movement. These reactions are often slow or decreased in those with Down syndrome.

Costa studied 32 participants between the ages of 14 and 36. He used special binocular goggles to measure eye movements in response to visual and vestibular stimuli. His focus was the cerebellum which is responsible for balance, posture and movement control.

"Although we have known for many years that the cerebellum is disproportionally shrunk in persons with Down syndrome, we wanted to find out how their cerebella operated on a functional level," Costa said. "We found that people with Down had much diminished optokinetic and vestibular reflexes compared to typically developing individuals. As a consequence, it is likely that things may appear blurry when they ride a bike or play sports."

Because those with Alzheimer's disease also show a similar reduction in the optokinetic reflex, these new findings further support Costa's ongoing exploration of the links between Down and Alzheimer's disease.

"All individuals with Down syndrome develop a neuropathology indistinguishable from Alzheimer's disease after the third decade of life," he said.

Babies born with Down often carry the biological markers for Alzheimer's. At the same time, 20-30 percent of those with Down syndrome develop full-blown Alzheimer's dementia by the time they reach their 50s, he said.

Costa recently completed a clinical trial with the drug Memantine – used to treat Alzheimer's patients - to determine if it could boost memory and learning in those with Down syndrome. His work was chronicled in a lengthy New York Times Magazine profile earlier this month.

"Alzheimer's patients suffer similar declines to those with Down syndrome and we might be able to use the same drugs to treat both," he said. "As we continue to explore how these two conditions are linked, new avenues of treatment could arise that would not only alleviate symptoms but perhaps delay or stop the progression of these degenerative disorders."

Costa's study was supported by the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities at the University of Colorado and the Linda Crnic Institute for Down syndrome.

Faculty at the University of Colorado School of Medicine work to advance science and improve care. These faculty members include physicians, educators and scientists at University of Colorado Hospital, Children's Hospital Colorado, Denver Health, National Jewish Health, and the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Degrees offered by the CU Denver School of Medicine include doctor of medicine, doctor of physical therapy, and masters of physician assistant studies. The School is located on the University of Colorado's Anschutz Medical Campus, one of four campuses in the University of Colorado system. For additional news and information, please visit the UC Denver newsroom online.

David Kelly | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucdenver.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH

nachricht Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>