Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fundamental Protein Instrumental To Brain Development And Repair Identified

Date:
July 11, 2007
Source:
Children's National Medical Center
Summary:
Scientists have demonstrated conclusively that a specific protein and its signaling activity are instrumental in myelination and remyelination, processes essential to the creation and repair of the brain's white matter. This groundbreaking discovery in mouse models points the way to developing treatments to enhance healthy brain development and/or brain disease repair in children and adults.

Scientists at Children's National Medical Center have demonstrated conclusively that a specific protein and its signaling activity are instrumental in myelination and remyelination, processes essential to the creation and repair of the brain's white matter. This groundbreaking discovery in mouse models points the way to developing treatments or interventions to enhance healthy brain development and/or brain disease repair in children and adults. The paper will be published in the August issue of Nature Neuroscience.

"By understanding the fundamental mechanisms of brain development, we get closer to finding clear instructions to repairing developmental brain disorders and injuries," said Vittorio Gallo, PhD, Director, Center for Neuroscience Research, Children's Research Institute at Children's National Medical Center.

Dr. Gallo and colleagues' study used mouse models to identify an essential protein and its signaling activity in the processes of myelination and remyelination. These processes are relevant to white matter development and repair. When white matter is injured or defective, the essential functions of information relay are impaired. Underdeveloped white matter or white matter injuries are linked to conditions including mental retardation, cerebral palsy and multiple sclerosis.

"Children's National Medical Center is the ideal environment for complex research," said Dr. Gallo. "We work collaboratively with research institutes around the world, and then we walk down the hall to confer with colleagues who are on the front line of direct clinical care. My colleagues in clinical research and care pioneered whole body cooling, which slows down brain damage underway in compromised newborns. Our breakthrough at the level of laboratory research will soon translate to the bedsides where they care for newborns."

"If we can marry whole body cooling with new approaches that boost the activity of this essential protein, we may be able to slow down injury and enhance myelination," continued Dr. Gallo. "Some day we may be able to repair brain damage and subsequent affects such as mental retardation, developmental disabilities or other disorders that result from incomplete myelination or white matter damage."

Myelination in humans begins in utero at around 5 months of gestation and continues throughout the first three years of life, but can be impaired for a number of reasons, most commonly intrauterine infection, reduced or interrupted blood flow (which carries oxygen and nutrients) to the forming infant brain, or perinatal injury. These conditions affect up to 30 percent of preterm babies, many with severe motor and cognitive deficits, such as in patients affected by cerebral palsy.

Remyelination is a natural attempt by the brain to repair damage of the white matter; however the brain does not have the ability to completely repair itself.

Dr. Gallo and colleagues' work used enhanced epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) protein and activity to clearly demonstrate the role that this molecule plays as a catalyst to the natural processes of proliferation and migration of progenitor cells, which are integral to white matter development and repair. By first inserting enhanced EGFR protein and showing enhanced myelination/remyelination, and then using an EGFR protein with reduced biological activity -- and showing the decrease in myelination/remyelination -- Dr. Gallo and colleagues demonstrate that EGFR protein is an essential ingredient and that its signaling is instrumental in progenitor cell proliferation, migration, and in myelination and functional repair of white matter.

Dr. Gallo's work reported in this paper specifically demonstrates the following:

  • Progenitor cells in the peri-ventricular zone of the brain contribute to remyelination of white matter lesions.
  • A lesion in white matter naturally prompts progenitor cells to replicate and migrate to the site of the lesion where they are involved in remyelination and functional repair.
  • Over-expression (through genetic manipulation) of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) protein promotes both myelination and remyelination (creation and repair of white matter).
  • Over-expression (through genetic manipulation) of EGFR protein promotes functional recovery of neural fibers (demonstrated through the conduction of electrical impulses).
  • Reducing (through genetic manipulation) EGFR signaling decreases myelination and remyelination.

Dr. Gallo's work also reconfirmed that by enhancing EGFR receptor activity on a specific population of progenitor cells (through genetic manipulation), myelination and remyelination can be enhanced. This part of the study builds on earlier work done in collaboration with Nancy Ratner, PhD, Professor in the Division of Experimental Hematology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Children's National Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Children's National Medical Center. "Fundamental Protein Instrumental To Brain Development And Repair Identified." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 July 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070708173034.htm>.
Children's National Medical Center. (2007, July 11). Fundamental Protein Instrumental To Brain Development And Repair Identified. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070708173034.htm
Children's National Medical Center. "Fundamental Protein Instrumental To Brain Development And Repair Identified." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070708173034.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) Conjoined twins Emmett and Owen Ezell were separated by doctors in August. Now, nearly nine months later, they're being released from the hospital. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. 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:
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