Around 16,000 people in Switzerland suffer a stroke every year. Often the result of a sudden occlu-sion of a vessel supplying the brain, it is the most frequent live-threatening neurological disorder. In most cases, it has far-reaching consequences for survivors. Often the stroke sufferers have to cope with handicaps and rehabilitation is a long process. The brain does, however, have a “considerable capacity for regeneration” explains Lukas Bachmann from the Brain Research Institute of the University of Zurich. As member of Professor Martin Schwab’s research team, he found that the brainstem, the oldest region in the brain, could play an important role in recovery. The results have now been published in “The Journal of Neuroscience”.
The healthy half of the brain assumes control
A stroke in the cerebral cortex frequently leads to motor constraints of one half of the body, to what is known as hemiparesis. This is due to the loss of neuron pathways which transmit signals from the cortex to the spinal cord. As these pathways are crossed, the side of the body contralateral to the affected half of the brain is affected. The major impairments at the beginning are often only temporary and stroke sufferers can sometimes stage an amazing recovery. “The side of the body affected is increasingly controlled by the ipsilateral side of the cortex, i.e. the healthy side”, explains Lukas Bachmann. As the neuron pathways are crossed, this raised the following question for the neuroscientists: by which pathway are the signals rerouted from the motor cortex to the ipsilateral parts of the spinal cord?
Sprouting of neurons from the brainstem
In their study in mice the researchers in Martin Schwab’s team now demonstrate that the brainstem probably plays a key role in the rerouting of neural impulses. Images of the brain show that after a major stroke nerve fibers from specific core regions of the brain sprout into the area of the spinal cord that had lost its input after a stroke. “At the same time, more fibers sprout from the intact cortex into these same regions of the brainstem”, continues Lukas Bachmann. These changes in the neuronal circuits may mediate the non-crossed flow of nerve impulses after a stroke. “This could turn out to be a key mechanism which facilitates recovery after a stroke”, says the brain researcher. The scientists now want to use these findings to steer the sprouting of neurons in various areas of the brain by means of targeted therapy to maximise the recovery of motor functions.
Lukas C. Bachmann, Nicolas T. Lindau, Petra Felder, Martin E. Schwab: Sprouting of Brainstem–Spinal Tracts in Response to Unilateral Motor Cortex Stroke in Mice. The Journal of Neuroscience, February 25, 2014. Doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4384-13.2014
Bettina Jakob | Universität Zürich
Microscope measures muscle weakness
16.11.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Good preparation is half the digestion
16.11.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Stoffwechselforschung
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.
When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure
Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
23.10.2018 | Event News
16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences
16.11.2018 | Life Sciences