Oct. 25, 2021 — Star-shaped cells in our brains referred to as astrocytes play a vital position in serving to us assume, transfer, and breathe. They nourish our neurons, the cells that transmit messages all through our mind and nervous system to regulate our bodily features.
A brand new research in mice means that astrocytes additionally might play a unfavorable position in our brains. When these cells encounter injured neurons, they launch poisonous fatty acids that would contribute to the tissue injury that happens with dementia and different neurodegenerative ailments.
After researchers made this discovery utilizing mice, they genetically engineered the animals to dam manufacturing of those fatty acids. Their goal was to see if stopping manufacturing of those toxins prevented nerve cell destruction.
Within the modified mice, 75% of the nerve cells survived, in contrast with 10% of such cells in animals with usually functioning astrocytes, in line with the findings, which had been printed in Nature.
These poisonous fatty acids don’t have an effect on wholesome cells, the research group famous. The consequences could also be confined solely to nerve cells which are broken, injured, or mutated.
These findings are preliminary, and the strategies the investigators utilized in mice aren’t prepared for use in human research. The researchers recommend that halting manufacturing of the fatty acids may at some point be used to deal with situations resembling dementia, a number of sclerosis, Parkinson’s illness, and Huntington’s illness. The method is likely to be safer than attacking astrocytes straight, as they nonetheless are wanted to nourish wholesome neurons.