Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Disrupted fat breakdown in the brain makes mice dumb

19.05.2017

A study led by the University of Bonn opens a new perspective with regard to the development of dementia. The scientists blocked the breakdown of a certain fat molecule in the mouse brain. As a result the animals exhibited learning and memory problems. Also the quantity of Alzheimer-specific proteins in their brains increased significantly. The researchers now have a clue as to why the mice become dumb. The results are published in the renowned scientific journal “Autophagy”.

Apart from water, our brain is rich in lipids – in plain language: fats. The lipids act, for instance, as an insulating layer around the nerve fibers and thus prevent short circuits. However, they are also a main component in the delicate membranes that surround the brain cells.


Healthy control nerve cells with intact “garbage bags” (red).

© AG van Echten-Deckert/Uni Bonn


Nerve cells with disrupted S1P breakdown: the yellow-orange marked garbage bags have not closed properly, and are therefore transparent.

© AG van Echten-Deckert/Uni Bonn

Sphingolipids, a special lipid type are highly enriched in the brain. One of their degradation products, S1P, may play a central role in the development of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. “We raised mice that are no longer able to break down S1P in large parts of their brain,” explains Dr. Gerhild van Echten-Deckert. “The animals then displayed severely reduced learning and memory performance.”

Van Echten-Deckert undertakes research at the LIMES Institute at the University of Bonn (the acronym stands for “Life and Medical Sciences”) as an assistant professor. For a long time, she has been one of the few experts in the world interested in the role of S1P in the brain. The new study could fundamentally change this, as the researchers at the University of Bonn, Jena University Hospital, the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and from San Francisco and Madrid were able to show what far-reaching consequences disrupted S1P breakdown has.

“Self-eating” keeps the brain healthy

Normally, S1P is broken down into simpler products. One such breakdown product generated is important for a vital metabolic pathway – called autophagy. The word autophagy (literally translates to “self-eating”) and the pathway enables cells to digest and recycle their own components. The cells are thus cleared from defective proteins and cell organelles that no longer function properly.

Intracellular waste disposal works in two steps: first, it packs the waste in tiny “garbage bags”. These then merge with other “bags” that contain highly reactive enzymes. The enzymes “shred” the content of the garbage bags and thus dispose it off.

The break-down product of S1P is involved in packing the waste into the intracellular garbage bags. “If S1P is not broken down, fewer closed garbage bags are formed; autophagy then no longer works accurately,” explains the first author of the study Daniel Mitroi, who has recently completed his PhD at the LIMES Institute. “Harmful substances thus accumulated in the brains of our mice. These included the protein APP, which plays a key role in the development of Alzheimer’s.”

As autophagy is crucial for normal functioning of the brain, improper intracellular waste disposal results in severe illnesses. Therefore last year the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to the Japanese scientist Yoshinori Ohsumi for his notable work on this vital mechanism. The results of the current study shed light on a previously overlooked mechanism for dementia development. “In the long term, our work may contribute towards developing successful treatment strategies for brain disorders,” hopes Dr. van Echten-Deckert.

Publication: Daniel N. Mitroi, Indulekha Karunakaran, Markus Gräler, Julie D. Saba, Dan Ehninger, María Dolores Ledesma and Gerhild van Echten-Deckert: SGPL1 (sphingosine phosphate lyase 1) modulates neuronal autophagy via phosphatidylethanolamine production; Autophagy; DOI: 10.1080/15548627.2017.1291471

Contact:

Dr. Gerhild van Echten-Deckert
LIMES Institute
University of Bonn
Tel. +49 (0)228/732703
E-mail: g.echten.deckert@uni-bonn.de

Johannes Seiler | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
http://www.uni-bonn.de

Further reports about: Alzheimer’s S1P autophagy brain cells dementia enzymes garbage bags nerve fibers waste disposal

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Antibodies from Ebola survivor protect mice and ferrets against related viruses
19.05.2017 | NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

nachricht Advancing cancer immunotherapy with computer simulations and data analysis
18.05.2017 | University of Texas at Austin, Texas Advanced Computing Center

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

Im Focus: Hydrogen Bonds Directly Detected for the First Time

For the first time, scientists have succeeded in studying the strength of hydrogen bonds in a single molecule using an atomic force microscope. Researchers from the University of Basel’s Swiss Nanoscience Institute network have reported the results in the journal Science Advances.

Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and is an integral part of almost all organic compounds. Molecules and sections of macromolecules are...

Im Focus: Laser pulses reveal the superconductors of the future

Thanks to innovative laser techniques, a class of materials shows a new potential for energy efficiency. The research is published in Nature Physics

Another step forward towards superconductivity at room temperature: an experiment at the cutting edge of condensed matter physics and materials science has...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

Media accreditation opens for historic year at European Health Forum Gastein

16.05.2017 | Event News

Aerogels - the world's lightest solids: International project meeting of NanoHybrids at TUHH

15.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Disrupted fat breakdown in the brain makes mice dumb

19.05.2017 | Health and Medicine

Graphene-nanotube hybrid boosts lithium metal batteries

19.05.2017 | Materials Sciences

Antibodies from Ebola survivor protect mice and ferrets against related viruses

19.05.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>