Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Multiple Sclerosis Discovery Sheds Light On Unravelling Of Nerves' Protective Myelin Sheath

Date:
September 15, 2004
Source:
University Of California - Santa Barbara
Summary:
Scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara have made an important discovery that will increase the understanding of multiple sclerosis, a debilitating disease of the central nervous system in which the myelin sheath, an insulating membrane surrounding the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, start to unravel for reasons as yet unknown.

Santa Barbara, CA -- Scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara have made an important discovery that will increase the understanding of multiple sclerosis, a debilitating disease of the central nervous system in which the myelin sheath, an insulating membrane surrounding the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, start to unravel for reasons as yet unknown.

Related Articles


In a paper appearing in today's issue (Sept. 14) of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, several UC Santa Barbara researchers describe the results of a study that shows why the unraveling occurs.

The myelin sheath is made up of a lipid bilayer (similar to those making up the cell membrane) wrapped many times around the nerve axon -- the part of a nerve cell through which impulses travel away from the cell body.

One specific protein, called myelin basic protein, acts to hold the myelin sheath together tightly around the axon. The axons serve as the electrical wires that connect the nerve cells, and the myelin serves as the insulation to keep the electrical impulses flowing quickly and reliably.

"If the myelin breaks down, for whatever reason, the nerve electrical impulses leak out, slow down, and generally don't work very well," says Joe Zasadzinski, professor of chemical engineering at UCSB.

Zasadzinski, with co-authors Jacob Israelachvili, professor of chemical engineering, graduate student Yufang Hu and postdoctoral fellow Ivo Doudevski, and Cynthia Husted, director of UCSB's Center for the Study of Neurodegenerative Disorders write that "We have discovered that in the progression of MS, there are small changes in the lipid composition of myelin. There is less negatively-charged lipid in the membrane and more neutral, or uncharged, lipids. Myelin basic protein is positively charged and gets in between the bilayers to link up the negatively-charged lipids and glue the myelin sheath together."

The scientists explain that the tightest seal occurs when the amount of negative charge from the lipids just match the amount of positive charge from the protein. If there is too much of either one, then the bilayers start to repel each other rather than bind. "Although we can't say why the lipid composition changes, now with this new knowledge, perhaps we can suggest methods of trying to treat the unraveling before it gets too far along," Zasadzinski says. Zasadzinski, Husted and Israelachvili also discovered that the myelin basic protein acts as a patch to fill in any holes in the myelin bilayers. "It is similar to the stuff you put in your tires to fix punctures," Zasadzinski explains. "The myelin basic protein floats around until it finds a hole, binds to the edge of the hole and then pushes the lipids to fill in the hole, insuring good insulation from the myelin sheath."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California - Santa Barbara. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California - Santa Barbara. "Multiple Sclerosis Discovery Sheds Light On Unravelling Of Nerves' Protective Myelin Sheath." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 September 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040915111643.htm>.
University Of California - Santa Barbara. (2004, September 15). Multiple Sclerosis Discovery Sheds Light On Unravelling Of Nerves' Protective Myelin Sheath. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040915111643.htm
University Of California - Santa Barbara. "Multiple Sclerosis Discovery Sheds Light On Unravelling Of Nerves' Protective Myelin Sheath." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040915111643.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. 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