Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Scientists map new mechanism in brain's barrier tissue

08.03.2012
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen have documented a previously unknown biological mechanism in the brain's most important line of defence: the blood-brain barrier. Scientists now know that the barrier helps maintain a delicate balance of glutamate, a vital signal compound in the brain. The research results have just been published in the scientific journal GLIA.

Glutamate is the most important activating transmitter substance in the brain. Vital in small amounts, it is toxic for the brain if the concentration becomes too high. Noise on the brain's signal lines can have fatal consequences and is involved in neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, sclerosis and schizophrenia. Until now scientists believed that the glutamate balance was maintained by an interaction between different types of cells in the brain: Scientists map new mechanism in the brain

"We now know that the blood-brain barrier also plays a vital role in the process by 'vacuuming' – so to speak – the brain fluid for extraneous glutamate, which is then pumped into the blood where it does not have a damaging effect. This is new knowledge that can have enormous impact on future drug development. We have charted a biological mechanism that other scientists eventually can try to influence chemically, for example, in the form of medicine to limit cell death after a stroke. When the brain lacks oxygen, the glutamate level in the brain fluid increases dramatically, which kick starts a toxic chain reaction that kills cells", explains associate professor Birger Brodin.

The research results have just been published in the scientific journal GLIA.

A couple of years ago, researchers at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences modelled an artificial blood-brain barrier in the laboratory using brain cells from rats and calves. Ninety-five percent of all drugs tested for treating diseases originating in the central nervous system fail because they cannot pass through the blood-brain barrier, which is why it is so important to have a tool that can be used to negotiate the difficult path across the brain's effective border crossing.

However, the model is not just a potential screening tool. It can also inform scientists about the properties of the mysterious barrier and lead to new knowledge about the healthy brain and disease:

"Others have been on the trail of the hypothesis that the blood-brain barrier helps maintain the delicate glutamate balance in the brain. However, because of the model we created in the laboratory, we have been able to test the hypothesis successfully in a biological experiment for the first time ever", explains PhD student Hans Christian Helms, who is the main driver behind the development of the blood-brain barrier created in the laboratory.

Scientists discovered the new mechanism in the blood-brain barrier as they were trying to investigate how amino acids get into the brain:

"Many significant discoveries happen by accident to some extent. We start by having a theory that we want to investigate. We test the theory in the laboratory and sometimes we get unexpected results. It is often the unexpected results that lead us onto new paths and to scientific breakthrough", concludes Birger Brodin.

Contact:

PhD student
Hans Christian Helms
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
Cell: +45 31 24 26 66
Mail: hch@farma.ku.dk
Associate professor
Birger Brodin
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
Cell: +45 22 48 03 55
Mail: bbr@farma.ku.dk
Communications officer
Stine Rasmussen
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
Cell: +45 20 92 27 30
Mail: sr@farma.ku.dk

Hans Christian Helms | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ku.dk

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht BigH1 -- The key histone for male fertility
14.12.2017 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

nachricht Guardians of the Gate
14.12.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New type of smart windows use liquid to switch from clear to reflective

14.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

BigH1 -- The key histone for male fertility

14.12.2017 | Life Sciences

Guardians of the Gate

14.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>