Wednesday September 26, 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 Wearable Patch That Helps in Monitoring Blood Pressure

The patch was tested on a male subject, who wore it on the forearm, wrist, neck and foot. Tests were performed both while the subject was stationary and doing exercise

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Photo: doctormurray.com

Scientists have developed a new wearable ultrasound patch that non-invasively monitors blood pressure in arteries deep beneath the skin and could help people detect cardiovascular problems earlier on and with greater precision.

The new soft, stretchy ultrasound patch uses ultrasound waves to continuously record the diameter of a pulsing blood vessel located as deep as four centimeters (more than one inch) below the skin.

It can be worn on the skin and provides accurate, precise readings of central blood pressure each time, even while the user is moving. And it can still get a good reading through fatty tissue.

“By integrating ultrasound technology into wearables, we can start to capture a whole lot of other signals, biological events and activities going on way below the surface in a non-invasive manner,” said Sheng Xu, Professor at the University of California San Diego.

Physicians involved with the study, reported in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering, say the technology would be useful in various inpatient procedures.

Blood Pressure
Representational image. Pixabay

“This has the potential to be a great addition to cardiovascular medicine,” said Brady Huang, co-author and radiologist at the varsity.

“In the operating room, especially in complex cardiopulmonary procedures, accurate real-time assessment of central blood pressure is needed — this is where this device has the potential to supplant traditional methods,” he noted.

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Central blood pressure is the pressure in the central blood vessels, which send blood directly from the heart to other major organs throughout the body.

Medical experts consider central blood pressure more accurate than peripheral blood pressure — measured with an inflatable cuff strapped around the upper arm, –and also say it’s better at predicting heart disease.

The patch was tested on a male subject, who wore it on the forearm, wrist, neck and foot. Tests were performed both while the subject was stationary and doing exercise. (IANS)

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