Since 1893, scientists have known mysterious structures called perinalal networks wrapped around neurons, but the operation of these networks was unknown.
This writes naked-science.ru.
However, a team of scientists from the University of Virginia headed by Harald Sontheimer (Harald Sontheimer) concluded that these networks regulate electrical impulses in the brain. In addition, they found that seizures could occur in case of disruption of networks. The results of the work published in Nature Communications.
Initially, researchers conducted this discovery in mice suffering from epilepsy caused by lethal brain cancer, glioblastoma, the first symptom of which is often spasms. Glioblastoma is the only cancer that is limited to space. Because the skull prevents the cancer from spreading outward, the tumor produces an exaggerated chemical neurotransmitter (glutamate) that kills neighboring healthy cells to create room for growth.
In addition to glutamate, the tumor secretes an enzyme that aims at destroying the surrounding extracellular matrix – a gel-like substance that holds the brain cells in place. Glioblastomas are very malignant and are known to spread to the body. The enzyme that is secreted is a kind of knife that cuts the cancer cells, allowing them to move freely.
To their surprise, scientists also noticed that the enzyme attacks on perinatal networks wrapped around neurons that inhibit GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid), which help prevent seizures.
The Italian neuroscientist Camillo Golgi (Camillo Golgi) first discovered the perineal network in 1893, but then intervened. Golgi called the "corset" network and said they probably prevented the exchange of messages between neurons. The Sontheimer's study contradicts this. The scientist, on the other hand, found that networks support messages. Neurons covered with perineutic nets have a smaller membrane capacity and the ability to store electrical charge, which means they can pulse and recharge up to two times faster than non-neuronal neurons.
When they suddenly lose their perineal networks, the results can be devastating: By applying this enzyme to the brain without tumor, scientists have seen that the greatest enzymatic degradation of the perinatal networks was enough to cause epileptic seizures – even when the neurons remained intact .
Now, the researchers' attention focuses on the role that the peri-infarcted networks can play in other forms of acquired epilepsy – for example, as a result of a head injury or a brain infection – that will bring them closer to creating an effective drug.
"We have solved the 125-year-old secret of neurology! This is the fundamental science of keeping an open and careful mind and responding to old and new questions, "says Sontheimer.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 50 million people worldwide suffer from epilepsy, one third of which are not prone to known antiepileptic procedures.
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