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.

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 July 25, 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 July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

China's Ageing Millions Look Forward to Bleak Future

AFP (July 24, 2014) China's elderly population is expanding so quickly that children struggle to look after them, pushing them to do something unexpected in Chinese society- move their parents into a nursing home. Duration: 02:07 Video provided by AFP
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:
from the past week

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