Thursday May 24, 2018

Astrocytes help in keeping the brain healthy, reveals a study

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New York: Scientists reported in a study that star-shaped brain cells appear to help in keeping blood pressure and blood flow inside the brain on a healthy tone.

The finger-like appendages of astrocytes, called end-feet, quite literally wrap around the countless, fragile blood vessels in the brain, constantly monitoring what is going on inside and around them.

“This is the first evidence of the astrocytes’ role in pressure-induced myogenic (muscle) tone, which is keeping things regular,” said Dr Jessica A Filosa, neurovascular physiologist at Georgia Regents University.

Filosa terms astrocytes as “housekeepers”. When they sense a change in blood pressure inside the brain, one of their duties is releasing signals that help dilate or constrict the blood vessels, whichever it takes to maintain the healthy status quo.

In fact, astrocytes keep their fingers on the pulse of blood vessels and neurons simultaneously, apparently playing an important role in balancing their needs.

“They are perfect bridges between what is going on with neuronal activity and blood flow changes to the brain.”

Astrocytes relentlessly monitor and respond to changes in blood pressure to help keep the brain from getting too much blood.

The team is now looking into what effect activating astrocytes has on neuronal activity.

The paper appeared in The Journal of Neuroscience. (IANS)

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New Study Shows That Elderly With Symptoms of Depression Are More Prone to Memory Problems

"Since symptoms of depression can be treated, it may be possible that treatment may also reduce thinking and memory problems," said study author Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida, US.

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The researchers found that greater symptoms of depression were linked to worse episodic memory -- a person's ability to remember specific experiences and events.
representational image. pixabay

Depression may speed up brain ageing and lead to memory problems in older adults, suggests new research that offers hope of finding a new way to treat memory issues.

“Since symptoms of depression can be treated, it may be possible that treatment may also reduce thinking and memory problems,” said study author Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida, US.

The study, published in the journal Neurology, also showed that older people with greater symptoms of depression may have structural differences in the brain compared to people without symptoms.

“With as many as 25 per cent of older adults experiencing symptoms of depression, it’s important to better understand the relationship between depression and memory problems,” Zeki Al Hazzouri said.

The study involved over 1,000 people with an average age of 71.

The researchers found that greater symptoms of depression were linked to worse episodic memory -- a person's ability to remember specific experiences and events.
representational image, pixabay

At the beginning of the study, all the participants had brain scans, a psychological exam and assessments for memory and thinking skills. Their memory and thinking skills were tested again an average of five years later.

At the start of the study, 22 per cent of the participants had greater symptoms of depression.

The researchers found that greater symptoms of depression were linked to worse episodic memory — a person’s ability to remember specific experiences and events.

Those with greater symptoms of depression had differences in the brain including smaller brain volume as well as a 55 per cent greater chance of small vascular lesions in the brain, the findings showed.

Also Read: Trauma in Childhood is Linked to Negative Outcomes in Adulthood 

“Small vascular lesions in the brain are markers of small vessel disease, a condition in which the walls in the small blood vessels are damaged,” said Zeki Al Hazzouri.

“Our research suggests that depression and brain ageing may occur simultaneously, and greater symptoms of depression may affect brain health through small vessel disease,” Zeki Al Hazzouri added. (IANS)

 

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