Monday December 17, 2018

Find out how our Immune System is related to Brain Functioning

The scientists found that immune system signalling can directly affect, and even change, social behaviour in mice and other model animals.

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Connection between Brain and Immune System. Image Source: www.deccanchronicle.com
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  • The researchers developed and employed a novel systems-biology approach to investigate the complex dialogue between immune signalling and brain function in health and disease
  • The researchers predicted an unexpected role for interferon gamma (IFN-?), an important substance secreted by immune cells, in promoting social brain functions
  • Restoring of IFN-?-signalling in the brain normalised brain activity and social behaviour

A new research suggests that neurological diseases such as autism-spectrum disorders and schizophrenia can be caused by malfunctioning of immune system

Autism: A Neurological Disease. Image Source: www.americanhealthreview.com
Autism: A Neurological Disease. Image Source: www.americanhealthreview.com

“Our findings contribute to a deeper understanding of social dysfunction in neurological disorders, such as autism and schizophrenia, and may open new avenues for therapeutic approaches,” said Vladimir Litvak, Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the US.

The study was published in the journal Nature.

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The researchers developed and employed a novel systems-biology approach to investigate the complex dialogue between immune signalling and brain function in health and disease.

Immune defence. Image Source: www.huffingtonpost.ca
Immune defence. Image Source: www.huffingtonpost.ca

Using this approach, the scientists found that immune system signalling can directly affect, and even change, social behaviour in mice and other model animals.

The researchers predicated an unexpected role for interferon gamma (IFN-?), an important substance secreted by immune cells, in promoting social brain functions.

In the course of the research, they found that blocking IFN-? in mice made mouse brains become hyperactive and caused atypical social behaviour.

Tridimensional structure of human interferon gamma. Image Source: en.wikipedia.org
Tridimensional structure of human interferon gamma. Image Source: en.wikipedia.org

Restoring of IFN-?-signalling in the brain normalised brain activity and social behaviour.

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“The brain and the adaptive immune system were thought to be isolated from each other, and any immune activity in the brain was perceived as a sign of pathology,” said Jonathan Kipnis from the University of Virginia.

“And now, not only are we showing that they are closely interacting, but some of our behaviour traits might have evolved because of our immune response to pathogens,” Kipnis explained. (IANS)

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    If the immune system is affected, it affects the whole body because it has a lot to do with our mental health

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Novel Blood Test May Predict Autism Risk in Babies During Pregnancy

These are exciting results as they hint at differences in some metabolic processes that potentially play a role in increasing the risk of having a child with autism

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Pregnancy, autism
Pregnancy after breast cancer does not increase a woman's risk of a relapse. Pixabay

Researchers have developed a novel blood test for pregnant mothers that can, with nearly 90 per cent accuracy rate, predict the probability of having a child that will be diagnosed with autism.

According to studies, if a mother has previously had a child with autism, the risk of having a second child with the developmental disorder is approximately 18.7 per cent, whereas the risk in the general population is approximately 1.7 per cent.

In the study, led by Juergen Hahn, Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, metabolites of the folate-dependent transmethylation and transsulfuration biochemical pathways of pregnant mothers were measured to determine whether or not the risk of having a child with autism could be predicted by her metabolic profile.

Pregnant mothers who have had a child with autism before were separated into two groups based on the diagnosis of their child whether the child had autism or not.

Pregnancy
Representational image. Pixabay

Then these mothers were compared to a group of control mothers who have not had a child with autism before.

The results, appearing in the journal Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, showed that while it is not possible to determine during a pregnancy if a child will be diagnosed with autism by age 3, they did find that differences in the plasma metabolites are indicative of the relative risk (18.7 per cent vs 1.7 per cent) for having a child with autism.

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“These are exciting results as they hint at differences in some metabolic processes that potentially play a role in increasing the risk of having a child with autism,” Hahn said.

“However, it would be highly desirable if a prediction based upon physiological measurements could be made to determine which risk group a prospective mother falls into,” Hahn noted. (IANS)