Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Brain injury may be autoimmune phenomenon, like multiple sclerosis

07.03.2013
Most scientists are starting to agree that repeat, sub-concussive hits to the head are dangerous and linked to neurological disorders later in life. A new collaborative study, though, attempted to find out why – and discovered that damage to the blood-brain barrier and the resulting autoimmune response might be the culprit.

Published in journal PLOS ONE by the University of Rochester Medical Center and the Cleveland Clinic, the research suggests a new way of thinking about concussions:

That the brain degeneration observed among professional football players (including the much-publicized chronic traumatic encephalopathy) could result from an out-of-control immune response, similar to what multiple sclerosis patients experience. If so, this opens the door to investigating a vaccine or drug therapy to prevent head trauma.

Although he emphasized that the research is preliminary, co-author Jeffrey J. Bazarian, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor of Emergency Medicine at URMC, said it's exciting to discover a theory that appears to fit with the reality of what experts observe among athletes. Bazarian worked closely with lead investigator Damir Janigro, Ph.D., professor of Molecular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, and 67 college football players from northeast Ohio and Rochester, N.Y., who agreed to participate in the research.

"Although the awareness of sports-related concussions is much higher, we still know very little about the long-term consequences and what happens inside the brain," Bazarian said.

"Our theory is plausible as an explanation for how routine head hits that come with playing football can lead to severe neuro-degeneration later in life," said Bazarian, a national expert who has served on an Institute of Medicine committee for brain injury. "If others confirm this, it could present options with drugs that influence the immune response."

The blood-brain barrier is like a semi-permeable gate between the brain and bloodstream. No other organ has such a barrier. When the barrier is working properly, it holds in proteins and molecules that bathe the brain and protect it from foreign substances. With blows to the head, however, the barrier opens slightly and allows some proteins to leak into the bloodstream.

Researchers found that S100B, a well-accepted protein biomarker for traumatic brain injury, was present in varying degrees in the blood samples of the 67 football players after every game -- even though none of them suffered a concussion. This demonstrates that even the most routine hits have some impact on the blood-brain barrier and possibly the brain itself, Bazarian said.

For the purposes of this project, however, the team wanted to explore what happens after S100B surges from the brain and enters the bloodstream. Again, they made an important finding – that the body views S100B as an enemy and begins to form antibodies against it as if it were a virus.

Researchers hypothesized that a buildup of antibodies would result in a more vigorous attack on S100B in the bloodstream. But in the process, they learned, some antibodies sneak back through the damaged blood-brain barrier to the brain and begin to harm the healthy brain cells that produced the S100B protein in the first place. This is analogous to a missile searching for a target, Bazarian said, with some unintended targets eventually falling under attack.

Researchers also showed that S100B accumulates in dendric cells, which regulate auto-immune responses. Therefore, as the blood-brain barrier repeatedly opens during the football season it might set the stage for a continuous autoimmune-type attack on the brain, they reasoned.

In multiple sclerosis a similar breakdown occurs, when the body's own immune system damages myelin sheaths around the brain. Other health conditions that harm the blood-brain barrier include sepsis (overwhelming infection), burns, critical illness, or seizures.

The methods used to test the hypothesis involved each player giving blood samples before and after games. Researchers then analyzed the samples for S100B levels and auto-immune antibody levels. They also monitored the number of hits each player sustained by viewing game films and conducting post-game interviews, and gave each player standard cognitive and functional tests, pre-season and post-season.

In addition, a subset of 10 players from the University of Rochester received special brain scans with diffusion tensor imaging, a more sensitive MRI that can detect subtle axonal injury.

Results showed that players with the most head hits also had the highest S100B levels and elevated levels of autoimmune antibodies. Players who often remained on the sidelines had significantly lower S100B levels. In addition, the blood samples predicted abnormalities seen in the imaging tests, and correlated with observed cognitive changes.

Although many scientists are actively investigating concussions in the United States right now, it's been difficult to study the link between brain injury, blood-brain barrier damage, and the long-term risk of neuro-degeneration because of a lack of simple, non-invasive tools, Bazarian said. But demonstrating that S100B can be used in this way adds a new dimension to the scientific literature. Other investigators have also used the S100B protein to study Alzheimer's patients, the study noted.

Bazarian hopes that eventually S100B will be a tool for emergency rooms and other clinical settings to screen for concussions. Doctors can accurately measure it with a simple finger prick; many European countries already use S100B to decide which patients need a CT scan when a concussion is suspected.

Emily Boynton | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.urmc.rochester.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Oxygen loss in the coastal Baltic Sea is “unprecedentedly severe”
05.07.2018 | European Geosciences Union

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microscopic trampoline may help create networks of quantum computers

17.07.2018 | Information Technology

In borophene, boundaries are no barrier

17.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

The role of Sodium for the Enhancement of Solar Cells

17.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>