Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

MRI analysis shows brain connections that develop last decline first

12.07.2004


Technology opens door for study of cause, treatment of Alzheimer’s

UCLA neuroscientists using a new MRI analysis technique to examine myelin sheaths that insulate the brain’s wiring report that as people age, neural connections that develop last degenerate first. The computer-based analysis method is unique in its ability to examine specific brain structures in living people at millimeter resolution.

Published online by the Neurobiology of Aging earlier this year and scheduled to appear in the August 2004 print edition of the peer-reviewed journal, the study offers new insights into the role of myelin in brain aging and its contribution to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, the success of the MRI analysis technique opens new opportunities for studying the impact of lifestyle on brain aging and for developing medications that could slow aging or prevent Alzheimer’s disease.



"The study increases our understanding of the role of myelin in brain development and degeneration, and demonstrates the usefulness of this MRI method for examining the single most powerful risk for Alzheimer’s disease by far - age," said Dr. George Bartzokis, the study’s lead investigator and visiting professor of neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He also is director of the UCLA Memory Disorders and Alzheimer’s Disease Clinic and clinical core director of the UCLA Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.
Myelin is a sheet of lipid, or fat, with very high cholesterol content - the highest of any brain tissue. The high cholesterol content allows myelin to wrap tightly around axons, speeding messages through the brain by insulating these neural "wire" connections.

As the brain continues to develop in adulthood and as myelin is produced in greater and greater quantities, cholesterol levels in the brain grow and eventually promote the production of a toxic protein that together with other toxins attacks the brain. This toxic environment disrupts brain connections and eventually also leads to the brain/mind-destroying plaques and tangles visible years later in the cortex of Alzheimer’s patients.

"The brain is not a computer, it is much more like the Internet," Bartzokis said. "The speed, quality and bandwidth of the connections determine its ability to process information, and all these depend in large part on the insulation that coats the brain’s connecting wires.
"The results of our study show that in older age, the myelin insulation breaks down, resulting in a decline in the speed and efficiency of our Internet. Myelin and the cells that produce it are the most vulnerable component of our brain - the human brain’s Achilles’ heel," he said. "This safe, non-invasive technology can assess the development and degeneration of the brain’s insulation in specific regions. Now that we can measure how brain aging proceeds in vulnerable regions, we can measure what treatments will slow aging down and thus begin in earnest to look at preventing Alzheimer’s disease."

The UCLA research team examined the deterioration of myelin in the brain’s splenium and genu regions of the corpus callosum, which connects the two sides of the brain. Neural connections important to vision develop early in life in the splenium, while connections important to decision making, memory, impulse control and other higher functions develop later in the genu.

The team found that the brain connections deteriorated three times as fast in the genu compared to the splenium. The study also notes that myelin deterioration is far greater throughout the brain of patients with Alzheimer’s disease than in healthy older adults. The late myelinating regions are much more vulnerable and may be why the highest levels of reasoning and new memories are the first to go when one develops Alzheimer’s disease, while movement and vision are unaffected until very late in the disease process.

These findings support the model of Alzheimer’s as a disease driven by myelin breakdown. Bartzokis detailed this model in an article published in the January 2004 edition of the Neurobiology of Aging along with six independent commentaries and his response.

Dan Page | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucla.edu
http://neurology.medsch.ucla.edu
http://www.adc.ucla.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Improving memory with magnets
28.03.2017 | McGill University

nachricht Graphene-based neural probes probe brain activity in high resolution
28.03.2017 | Graphene Flagship

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: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Transport of molecular motors into cilia

28.03.2017 | Life Sciences

A novel hybrid UAV that may change the way people operate drones

28.03.2017 | Information Technology

NASA spacecraft investigate clues in radiation belts

28.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>