Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Alzheimer's, Other Diseases, May Benefit From First Live Studies Of Key Cell Structures

Date:
April 30, 2002
Source:
National Science Foundation
Summary:
A new study describes for the first time a method of culturing important but poorly understood cell structures called Hirano bodies. The report by cellular biologists at the University of Georgia could shed light on numerous diseases in which Hirano bodies may play some role--including Alzheimer's disease, Lou Gehrig's Disease and cancer.

A new study describes for the first time a method of culturing important but poorly understood cell structures called Hirano bodies. The report by cellular biologists at the University of Georgia could shed light on numerous diseases in which Hirano bodies may play some role--including Alzheimer's disease, Lou Gehrig's Disease and cancer.

The research was published in the May issue of the Journal of Cell Science and was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Alzheimer's Association.

Hirano bodies -- named for their discoverer -- have been known for several decades, and their presence in autopsy tissue of Alzheimer's patients has led to speculation that they may play a role in disease processes. Studying Hirano bodies, however, has been extremely difficult because they have been resistant to culturing in the laboratory.

The new study, led by cellular biologist Marcus Fechheimer, reports a novel way to create Hirano bodies in the lab, giving scientists their first tool to understand how the bodies may aid-or hinder--the progress of disease.

“This is a wonderful example of why it is so important for scientists to pursue very basic, fundamental, curiosity-driven studies in cell biology,” says Eve Barak, program director in NSF’s division of cellular and molecular biosciences. “Eventually such research will lead to something of great value to society.”

Scientists have for three decades found Hirano bodies in the post-mortem examination of brain tissue from patients with neurodegenerative diseases, diabetes, alcoholism and cancer.

Understanding just what Hirano bodies do remains murky at best. They may change cells to make them more vulnerable to disease, but it's currently just as likely that they help battle disease; nobody knows. That's why the new results are exciting and offer a key tool for investigations of these structures.

The team used an unlikely candidate for a model system for neuro-degenerative disease: the slime mold Dictyostelium. The discovery of Hirano bodies in Dictyostelium was an accidental offshoot of basic cell biology research that Fechheimer and his students pursued for more than a decade. The research team found at least five points of similarity between Dictyostelium Hirano bodies and those found from human autopsy samples.

Until now, Hirano bodies have been found by autopsy most often in the hippocampus region of the brain, though the bodies are not restricted to neurons. Still, the bodies appear to have some association with a wide range of diseases, including ataxic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Pick's disease (both neurodegenerative disorders) and diabetes.

The presence of Hirano bodies in association with all these diseases has led scientists to speculate that they have some role in neurological deterioration--especially in diseases like Alzheimer's. Fechheimer and his colleagues, however, argue that their results support a broader interpretation. They propose that a range of conditions may generate signals that induce the formation of Hirano bodies.

So far, nobody knows if these bodies are doing good or bad things for cells. Some researchers had speculated that the bodies played a role in apoptosis or so-called "programmed cell death," in which cells signal for their own demise, often for the good of the entire organism. However, Fechheimer’s work shows that Hirano bodies are not necessarily linked to a stage in cell death. The new ability to create Hirano bodies in the lab will allow researchers to explore their mechanisms with greater understanding.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Science Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Science Foundation. "Alzheimer's, Other Diseases, May Benefit From First Live Studies Of Key Cell Structures." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 April 2002. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/04/020430075432.htm>.
National Science Foundation. (2002, April 30). Alzheimer's, Other Diseases, May Benefit From First Live Studies Of Key Cell Structures. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/04/020430075432.htm
National Science Foundation. "Alzheimer's, Other Diseases, May Benefit From First Live Studies Of Key Cell Structures." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2002/04/020430075432.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) In a ruling attorneys for both sides agreed was a first of its kind, a Georgia appeals court said parents can be held liable for what kids put online. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

Newsy (Oct. 15, 2014) Researchers claim they’ve diagnosed the first example of the disorder in a 31-year-old U.S. Navy serviceman. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins