Now, in research at the University of Georgia, a cellular biologist and his colleagues have found that Hirano bodies may play a protective role in the progression of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. And to find out why this may be happening, they have developed the world's first transgenic mouse model that has Hirano bodies, which will open new frontiers on how these poorly understood structures may be involved with some of humankind's most difficult-to-treat diseases.
"This work gives us a first view of the possible effects of Hirano bodies," said Marcus Fechheimer, Josiah Meigs Professor of cellular biology at UGA. "Now we know that Hirano bodies do not kill cells and are not toxic to mice. This new model will allow us to ask whether Hirano bodies have any effect on progression of disease in the brain."
While the research offers no cure for diseases such as Lou Gehrig's and mad cow, it does create a new area of research into understanding how these diseases operate in the human body and why they are so difficult to treat. And the problem is vast: the Alzheimer's Association reports there are 5.4 million sufferers of that disease in the U.S. alone.
The latest research announcing the transgenic mouse model for the formation of Hirano bodies was just published in the journal BMC Neuroscience. Co-authors with Fechheimer include Ruth Furukawa in the Fechheimer lab at UGA, as well as John Wagner and Michael Stramiello of the College of Veterinary Medicine, also at UGA; and Sangdeuk Ha, formerly of UGA and now with Beth Israel Deconess Medical Center at the Harvard Medical School.
Researchers actually discovered Hirano bodies decades ago but studying them in the lab proved so difficult that all the medical community could say was that the bodies were in some way associated with diseases such as Alzheimer's. It was clear that Hirano bodies are composed primarily of filaments of actin, a protein that participates in many important cellular processes. But no one understood their function.
Fechheimer's lab has been at the center of research on Hirano bodies for nearly a decade. In 2002, it reported for the first time a method of inducing the bodies to form. Interestingly, these "inclusions" also show up in autopsies of people suffering from diabetes, alcoholism and cancer. Hirano bodies also are associated with normal aging. So understanding what they do when neurological processes go off the rails could add an important step in understanding how diseases that cause so much suffering progress.
In a companion paper to the new mouse model research, published this year in the journal Neurobiology of Aging, Fechheimer and his co-authors discovered that Hirano bodies may actually act as a "corral" into which more damaging cellular molecules are "rounded up," thus actually promoting cell survival and possibly even slowing the impact of disease. The idea that Hirano bodies may actually help protect cells from such disorders as Alzheimer's came as a surprise to the team, though much research remains to be done to make sure exactly what is happening.
Co-authors on the paper in Neurobiology of Aging were Furukawa and Ha.
"The new results show us that Hirano bodies reduce cell death in a model system in a culture dish," said Fechheimer. "Now we need to know if Hirano bodies have any harmful or protective effects on cells in the brain in a mouse and in human patients. We developed the new mouse model to begin to answer this question."
The new model system will allow Fechheimer and his colleagues to study the impact of Hirano bodies in a living, mammalian system and to investigate the pathways for formation and degradation of the bodies. It will also allow them to test whether Hirano bodies promote or modulate the development of pathology or affect the deterioration of learning and memory that characterize both the human disease and the mouse models of these conditions.
The mouse model research was supported by grants from the Alzheimer's Association and the National Institutes of Health. The NIH and Alzheimer's Association, as well as the National Science Foundation also supported the research reported in Neurobiology of Aging.
Note to editors: An image of Fechheimer in his laboratory is available for download at http://multimedia.uga.edu/media/images/Fechheimer_Marcus.jpg
Marcus Fechheimer | EurekAlert!
Solving the efficiency of Gram-negative bacteria
22.03.2019 | Harvard University
Bacteria bide their time when antibiotics attack
22.03.2019 | Rice University
DESY and MPSD scientists create high-order harmonics from solids with controlled polarization states, taking advantage of both crystal symmetry and attosecond electronic dynamics. The newly demonstrated technique might find intriguing applications in petahertz electronics and for spectroscopic studies of novel quantum materials.
The nonlinear process of high-order harmonic generation (HHG) in gases is one of the cornerstones of attosecond science (an attosecond is a billionth of a...
Nano- and microtechnology are promising candidates not only for medical applications such as drug delivery but also for the creation of little robots or flexible integrated sensors. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) have created magnetic microparticles, with a newly developed method, that could pave the way for building micro-motors or guiding drugs in the human body to a target, like a tumor. The preparation of such structures as well as their remote-control can be regulated using magnetic fields and therefore can find application in an array of domains.
The magnetic properties of a material control how this material responds to the presence of a magnetic field. Iron oxide is the main component of rust but also...
Due to the special arrangement of its molecules, a new coating made of corn starch is able to repair small scratches by itself through heat: The cross-linking via ring-shaped molecules makes the material mobile, so that it compensates for the scratches and these disappear again.
Superficial micro-scratches on the car body or on other high-gloss surfaces are harmless, but annoying. Especially in the luxury segment such surfaces are...
The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.
A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes...
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have proposed a way to create a completely new source of radiation. Ultra-intense light pulses consist of the motion of a single wave and can be described as a tsunami of light. The strong wave can be used to study interactions between matter and light in a unique way. Their research is now published in the scientific journal Physical Review Letters.
"This source of radiation lets us look at reality through a new angle - it is like twisting a mirror and discovering something completely different," says...
11.03.2019 | Event News
01.03.2019 | Event News
28.02.2019 | Event News
22.03.2019 | Life Sciences
22.03.2019 | Life Sciences
22.03.2019 | Information Technology