Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Traffic jam in brain causes schizophrenia symptoms

13.08.2009
Scientists create first mouse to develop disease as teenager, just like humans

Schizophrenia waits silently until a seemingly normal child becomes a teenager or young adult. Then it swoops down and derails a young life.

Scientists have not understood what causes the severe mental disorder, which affects up to 1 percent of the population and results in hallucinations, memory loss and social withdrawal.

But new research from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine has revealed how schizophrenia works in the brain and provided a fresh opportunity for treatment. In a new, genetically engineered mouse model, scientists have discovered the disease symptoms are triggered by a low level of a brain protein necessary for neurons to talk to one another.

A Traffic Jam in Brain

In human and mouse brains, kalirin is the brain protein needed to build the dense network of highways, called dendritic spines, which allow information to flow from one neuron to another. Northwestern scientists have found that without adequate kalirin, the frontal cortex of the brain of a person with schizophrenia only has a few narrow roads. The information from neurons gets jammed up like rush hour traffic on an interstate highway squeezed to a single lane.

"Without enough pathways, the information takes much longer to travel between neurons and much of it will never arrive," said Peter Penzes, assistant professor of physiology at the Feinberg School. He is senior author of a paper reporting the findings published in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. Michael Cahill, a Feinberg doctoral student in neuroscience, is the lead author.

First Mouse Model to Develop Disease as a Teenager

Penzes discovered the kalirin effect after he created the mouse model, which was the first to have a low level of kalirin and the first to develop symptoms of schizophrenia as an adolescent (two months old in mouse time). This mimics the delayed onset of the disease in humans. In normal development, the brain ramps up the production of kalirin as it begins to mature in adolescence.

New Direction for Treatment

"This discovery opens a new direction for treating the devastating cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia," Penzes said. "There is currently no treatment for that. It suggests that if you can stimulate and amplify the activity of the protein kalirin that remains in the brain, perhaps we can help the symptoms."

Currently the only drug treatment for schizophrenia is an antipsychotic. "The drugs address the hallucinations and calm down the patient, but they don't improve their working memory (the ability of the brain to temporarily store and manage information required for complex mental tasks such as learning and reasoning) or their ability to think or their social behavior," Penzes said. "So you end up with patients who still can't integrate into society. Many attempt suicide."

Similarities Between Human and Mouse Brains

A few years ago in postmortem examinations of schizophrenic human brains, other scientists had found fewer connections between the brain cells in the frontal cortex and lower levels of kalirin. But the scientists couldn't show whether one condition led to the other.

With the new mouse model, Penzes was able to demonstrate that the low level of kalirin resulted in fewer dendritic spines in the frontal cortex of the brain, the part of the brain responsible for problem solving, planning and reasoning. Other areas of the brain had a normal number of the dendritic spines. Human brains and mouse brains share many similarities in the way they function, Penzes said.

The new schizophrenic mouse model also exhibits more schizophrenic symptoms than other models, making these mice especially good for drug testing and development, Penzes said. The mice with low amounts of kalirin had a poor working memory, were antisocial and hyperactive.

Penzes said future studies would aim at enhancing the function of kalirin in the brain in an effort to correct the cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia.

Marla Paul | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.northwestern.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Cystic fibrosis alters the structure of mucus in airways
28.06.2017 | University of Iowa Health Care

nachricht Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders
28.06.2017 | University of California - Davis

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: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Supersensitive through quantum entanglement

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy under real ambient pressure conditions

28.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Mice provide insight into genetics of autism spectrum disorders

28.06.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>