These findings were described in the May 27 issue of Nature by Jaime Grutzendler, M.D., and colleagues. The study was supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health.
Uninterrupted blood flow is critical for brain function, and the brain has developed various mechanisms to maintain it. Blockages in the smallest blood vessels can be cleared by processes that disintegrate or wash them out. However, not all blockages are cleared completely. Persistent blockage can reduce or stop blood flow, limiting the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the surrounding tissue and nerve cells. This, in turn, can lead to impaired communications between nerve cells and ultimately cell death.
The researchers used a newly developed imaging technique that can view the smallest blood vessels, known as microvessels, in the brains of living mice. They found that two to seven days after a blockage in brain microvessels, the cells lining the blood vessel wall engulf the remaining portion of the blockage, encapsulate it, seal it off from the interior of the blood vessel and finally expel the blocking material outside of the vessel. As a result of this process, blood flow is restored to the affected area. (See graphic below.)
"These are intriguing findings," said NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. "They open new avenues of basic research that may increase our understanding of how microvessels are maintained in the brain and throughout the body."
The research team demonstrated that this complex protective mechanism involves the activity of an enzyme, matrix metalloprotease 2/9, which breaks down large proteins and is known to play a role in blood vessel development and in stroke.
The researchers also found that the ability to move the blockage out of the blood vessel diminished with age. Young mice (age 4 months) were able to clear blockages more quickly and thoroughly than older mice (age 22 months). The incomplete removal of blockages in the brains of older mice led to a prolonged shortage of oxygen to the surrounding nerve cells and damaged the connections between nerve cells in the vicinity of the obstructed blood vessels.
"The reduced efficiency of this protective mechanism in the older brain and its effect on the function of nerve cells in the brain may significantly contribute to age-related cognitive decline," said Suzana Petanceska, Ph.D., of the Neurobiology of Aging Branch in NIA's Division of Neuroscience, which funded the research. "This may also be part of the mechanism by which vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease with age."
The NIA leads the federal effort supporting and conducting research on aging and the medical, social and behavioral issues of older people. For more information on research and aging, go to www.nia.nih.gov.
The NIH—The Nation's Medical Research Agency—includes 27 institutes and centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.
Barbara Cire | EurekAlert!
Advanced analysis of brain structure shape may track progression to Alzheimer's disease
26.10.2016 | Massachusetts General Hospital
Indian roadside refuse fires produce toxic rainbow
26.10.2016 | Duke University
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
27.10.2016 | Life Sciences
27.10.2016 | Life Sciences
27.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering