Oct. 25, 2021 — Star-shaped cells in our brains referred to as astrocytes play a vital function in serving to us suppose, transfer, and breathe. They nourish our neurons, the cells that transmit messages all through our mind and nervous system to manage our bodily capabilities.
A brand new research in mice means that astrocytes additionally could play a detrimental function 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, based on the findings, which had been revealed in Nature.
These poisonous fatty acids don’t have an effect on wholesome cells, the research staff 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 would possibly sooner or later be used to deal with situations similar to dementia, a number of sclerosis, Parkinson’s illness, and Huntington’s illness. The strategy could be safer than attacking astrocytes straight, as they nonetheless are wanted to nourish wholesome neurons.