Oct. 25, 2021 — Star-shaped cells in our brains known as astrocytes play an important function in serving to us suppose, transfer, and breathe. They nourish our neurons, the cells that transmit messages all through our brain and nervous system to regulate our bodily capabilities.
A brand new examine in mice means that astrocytes additionally might play a unfavourable function in our brains. When these cells encounter injured neurons, they launch poisonous fatty acids that might contribute to the tissue harm 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.
In the modified mice, 75% of the nerve cells survived, in contrast with 10% of such cells in animals with usually functioning astrocytes, in response to the findings, which had been revealed in Nature.
These poisonous fatty acids don’t have an effect on wholesome cells, the examine group famous. The results could also be confined solely to nerve cells which might be 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 one day be used to deal with circumstances reminiscent of dementia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s illness, and Huntington’s illness. The strategy could be safer than attacking astrocytes immediately, as they nonetheless are wanted to nourish wholesome neurons.