Friday November 16, 2018

Protein found in brain may increase risk of stroke, says research

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New York: A special protein found in the brain’s tiniest blood vessels may increase the risk of stroke, find researchers.

The protein called FoxF2 is found in the brain’s smallest blood vessels called capillaries and are essential for the development of the blood-brain barrier.

In a study done on mice, the team found how the blood-brain barrier develops and what makes the capillaries in the brain different from small blood vessels in other organs.

“Mice that have too little or too much FoxF2 develop various types of defects in the brain’s blood vessels,” said Peter Carlsson, professor at the University of Gothenburg’s department of chemistry and molecular biology.

The brain’s smallest blood vessels differ from those in other organs as, in the one’s in brain capillary walls are much more compact.

The nerve cells in the brain get the nutrients they need by molecules actively being transported from the blood, instead of passively leaking out from the blood vessels.

This blood-brain barrier is vital, because it imposes strict control over the substances with which the brain’s nerve cells come into contact.

“It has a protective function that, if it fails, increases the risk of stroke and other complications,” the authors noted.

The FoxF2 gene is an extremely interesting candidate.

“The research is now underway in collaboration with clinical geneticists to investigate the extent to which variations in the FoxF2 gene affect people’s risk of suffering a stroke,” Carlsson said.

The findings appeared in the journal Developmental Cell. (IANS)

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Travelling To Space May Alter Brain, Says Study

Upon return to Earth, this process is then gradually reversed, which then results in a relative reduction of white matter volume

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Keplar, NASA
According to co-author Andrew Casey, it was previously believed that the first stars that formed in the universe could not possibly still exist today. VOA

Spending long periods in space not only leads to muscle atrophy and reductions in bone density, it also has lasting effects on the brain, suggests a study.

The study, led by a team of neuroscientists from the University of Antwerp in Belgium and Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) of Munich, showed that differential changes in the three main tissue volumes of the brain remain detectable for at least half a year after the end of their last mission.

“Our results point to prolonged changes in the pattern of cerebrospinal fluid circulation over a period of at least seven months following the return to Earth,” said professor Peter zu Eulenburg from the LMU.

“However, whether or not the extensive alterations shown in the grey and the white matter lead to any changes in cognition remains unclear at present,” he added.

The study, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, was carried out on ten cosmonauts, each of whom had spent an average of 189 days on board the International Space Station (ISS).

The magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) scans performed in the days after the return to Earth revealed that the volume of the grey matter was reduced compared to before launch.

ISS Launched First satellite For Cleaning Space Junk
Space travel can alter brain: Study, Pixabay

Seven months later, this effect was partly reversed, but nevertheless still detectable.

In contrast, the volume of the cerebrospinal fluid, which fills the inner and outer cavities of the brain, increased within the cortex during long-term exposure to microgravity.

Further, the white matter tissue volume (those parts of the brain that are primarily made up of nerve fibres) appeared to be unchanged upon investigation immediately after landing.

But, the subsequent examination six months later showed a widespread reduction in volume relative to both earlier measurements.

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In this case, the team postulated that over the course of a longer stint in space, the volume of the white matter may slowly be replaced by an influx of cerebrospinal fluid.

Upon return to Earth, this process is then gradually reversed, which then results in a relative reduction of white matter volume.

According to the researchers, further studies using a wider range of diagnostic methods are deemed essential, to minimise the risks associated with long-term missions and to characterise any clinical significance of the findings. (IANS)