Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Marker That Identifies Energy-producing Centers In Nerve Cells Can Help Track Metabolic Changes Related To Aging And Diseases

Date:
February 16, 2007
Source:
University of Maryland Medical Center
Summary:
A protein that causes coral to glow is helping researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine to light up brain cells that are critical for the proper functioning of the central nervous system. This fluorescent marker protein may shed light on brain cell defects believed to play a role in various neurological diseases.

A protein that causes coral to glow is helping researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine to light up brain cells that are critical for the proper functioning of the central nervous system. This fluorescent marker protein may shed light on brain cell defects believed to play a role in various neurological diseases. The researchers describe how this marker works in mice in the December 20, 2006, issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

The marker gives scientists the first-ever opportunity to distinguish between energy-producing structures, called mitochondria, in neurons, from mitochondria in other brain cells, called glia. Defects in mitochondria may be part of the process that leads to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, as well as changes in the brain associated with stroke and aging.

"Prior to the development of this marker, we had no way to identify the mitochondria in neuronal cells from those in glial cells," says the study's principal investigator, Krish Chandrasekaran, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "Using this tool, we and other investigators can answer certain questions, such as to what extent does neuronal mitochondrial dysfunction contribute to Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. And, in a general way, we could look into whether there are changes in neuronal mitochondria as we age."

Using advanced genetic techniques, the researchers have produced mice with fluorescent protein markers that identify only the mitochondria in neurons. These structures light up with a greenish-yellow glow when the scientists look at the brains of these mice through a fluorescent microscope. The researchers have determined that the expression of the fluorescent protein does not interfere with the normal functions of mitochondria.

Neurons conduct and generate electro-chemical impulses or nerve signals, which carry information from one part of the brain to another. Mitochondria in the neurons function like cellular powerhouses to produce those impulses through a metabolic process that combines oxygen with food calories. It is these nerve signals that cause muscles to move and thoughts to be processed. Dr. Chandrasekaran says the fluorescent marker system may make it possible to explore how neuronal activity and the mitochondrial energy-producing system are coordinated and how the interrelationship works.

The researchers say the establishment of the fluorescent marker in mice could unravel the mysteries of some of the most debilitating neurodegenerative diseases. The study's senior author, Tibor Kristian, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, says there are animal models for several of these diseases including Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as ALS) and Huntington's disease. "The mice we have developed with the fluorescent protein could be bred with mouse models of various neurological diseases, so we could apply the ability to see mitochondria in neurons to the research of those diseases," says Dr. Kristian.

This mouse model could also be used to study the role of neuronal mitochondria in stroke and traumatic brain injury, according to Dr. Kristian. He says his investigators are developing a similar marker for glial cells in the brain.

The team included research assistants Julie Hazelton and Yu Wang, and Gary Fiskum, Ph.D., professor and vice chairman of research in the Department of Anesthesiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

The National Institutes of Health supported this work with a two-year grant of $400,000.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Maryland Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Maryland Medical Center. "Marker That Identifies Energy-producing Centers In Nerve Cells Can Help Track Metabolic Changes Related To Aging And Diseases." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 February 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070201144445.htm>.
University of Maryland Medical Center. (2007, February 16). Marker That Identifies Energy-producing Centers In Nerve Cells Can Help Track Metabolic Changes Related To Aging And Diseases. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070201144445.htm
University of Maryland Medical Center. "Marker That Identifies Energy-producing Centers In Nerve Cells Can Help Track Metabolic Changes Related To Aging And Diseases." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070201144445.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

How Nigeria Beat Its Ebola Outbreak

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) The World Health Organization has declared Nigeria free of Ebola. Health experts credit a bit of luck and the government's initial response. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Another Study Suggests Viagra Is Good For The Heart

Another Study Suggests Viagra Is Good For The Heart

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) An ingredient in erectile-dysfunction medications such as Viagra could improve heart function. Perhaps not surprising, given Viagra's history. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Worries End for Dozens on U.S. Watch Lists

Ebola Worries End for Dozens on U.S. Watch Lists

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 20, 2014) Forty-three people who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., were cleared overnight of twice-daily monitoring after 21 days of showing no symptoms. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Calls for New Ebola Safety Guidelines

CDC Calls for New Ebola Safety Guidelines

AP (Oct. 20, 2014) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden laid out new guidelines for health care workers when dealing with the deadly Ebola virus including new precautions when taking off personal protective equipment. (Oct. 20) Video provided by AP
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