The formation of connections among nerve cells occurs during a relatively short period in the fetal brain. However, proper wiring of hundreds of millions of cells in our brains determine whether we can think, remember, move, or show emotions throughout our lives. For a nerve cell, recognizing its partners and establish connections with them is the key to survive and contribute to the control of brain functions. The process through which nerve cells recognize each other is guided by specific chemical signals whose availability instructs neurons to target or to ignore specific cells.
Scientists have now identified that endogenous cannabinoids, molecules naturally produced by our brains and functionally similar to THC from cannabis, play unexpectedly significant roles in establishing how certain nerve cells connect to each other. These new and exciting results not only bolster out knowledge on the brain’s normal development but may also take us closer to understanding if and when cannabis damages the fetal brain.
Endogenous cannabinoids use the same mechanism, engaging the CB1 cannabinoid receptor, as THC to exert their effects on nerve cells. Therefore, the finding that endogenous cannabinoids control the establishment of connections amongst certain nerve cells convinces the scientists that they have defined a key mechanism through which maternal cannabis use might impair fetal brain development and impose life-long cognitive, social, and motor deficits in affected offspring.
“Besides identifying a fundamental mechanism in brain development, our findings may provide new perspectives to identifying the molecular changes in the brains of individuals prenatally affected by maternal cannabis abuse”, says Dr. Tibor Harkany who has led the studies. “This is of social impact given the continuous growing use of marijuana, the most common illicit drug, in our society.’’
Earlier studies have already found that children of marijuana-smoking mothers more frequently suffer from permanent cognitive deficits, concentration disorders, hyperactivity, and impaired social interactions than non-exposed children of the same age and social background.Publication:
Science, 25 May 2007
Katarina Sternudd | alfa
Usher syndrome: Gene therapy restores hearing and balance
25.09.2017 | Institut Pasteur
MRI contrast agent locates and distinguishes aggressive from slow-growing breast cancer
25.09.2017 | Case Western Reserve University
At the productronica trade fair in Munich this November, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be presenting Laser-Based Tape-Automated Bonding, LaserTAB for short. The experts from Aachen will be demonstrating how new battery cells and power electronics can be micro-welded more efficiently and precisely than ever before thanks to new optics and robot support.
Fraunhofer ILT from Aachen relies on a clever combination of robotics and a laser scanner with new optics as well as process monitoring, which it has developed...
Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.
A warming planet
Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.
The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
25.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
25.09.2017 | Health and Medicine
25.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy