Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Double agent: Glial cells can protect or kill neurons, vision

Date:
February 8, 2010
Source:
University of Montreal
Summary:
Scientists have identified a double agent in the eye that, once triggered, can morph from neuron protector to neuron killer. The discovery has significant health implications since the neurons killed through this process results in vision loss and blindness.

Glial cells normally protect neurons in the retina.
Credit: Frédéric Lebrun-Julien, Université de Montréal

Scientists have identified a double agent in the eye that, once triggered, can morph from neuron protector to neuron killer. The discovery has significant health implications since the neurons killed through this process results in vision loss and blindness.

The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), are collaboration between the Université de Montreal, McGill University and the Montreal Neurological Institute in Canada and the Université de Namur in Belgium. The researchers show how an unusual molecule, called proNGF, activates glial cells that normally protect neurons in the retina and brain.

"We found that glial cells attack and kill neurons after being triggered by proNGF," says coauthor Dr. Philip Barker, a neuroscientist at the Montreal Neurological Institute and a professor at the McGill Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery. "Since glial cells normally protect neurons, we were surprised to find that proNGF can convert glial cells into killers that cause neuron death in the retina."

Coauthor Dr. Adriana Di Polo, a professor at the Université de Montréal Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, compares the proNGF molecule to a cell hijacker. "Before this study, we didn't know what physiological role the proNGF molecule played in the eye," she says. "We now propose that, following brain damage or neurodegenerative diseases, proNGF alters the glial cell network to change its function. Rather than protecting neurons, proNGF makes the glial cells attack neurons."

Scientists must now pay more attention to the damage proNGF can trigger. "Once retinal neurons die, they are gone forever and the permanent loss of these cells causes blindness," warns Dr. Di Polo.

"The next step for researchers is to explore whether proNGF signals can be controlled," says Frédéric Lebrun-Julien, first author and a PhD student at the Université de Montréal's Department of Pathology and Cell Biology.

Dr. Barker concurs. "If we can block factors induced by proNGF, we can protect neurons that would normally be lost. We think these findings may eventually translate into clinical benefits in diseases such as glaucoma."

The study was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Fonds de Recherche en Santé du Québec.

The paper, "ProNGF induces TNFα-dependent death of retinal ganglion cells through a p75NTR non-cell-autonomous signaling pathway," published in the journal PNAS, was authored by Frédéric Lebrun-Julien and Adriana Di Polo of the Université de Montréal; Olivier De Backer of the Université de Namur in Belgium; David Stellwagen, Mathieu J. Bertrand, Carlos R. Morales and Philip A. Barker of the Montreal Neurological Institute / McGill University.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of Montreal. "Double agent: Glial cells can protect or kill neurons, vision." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 February 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100201171647.htm>.
University of Montreal. (2010, February 8). Double agent: Glial cells can protect or kill neurons, vision. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100201171647.htm
University of Montreal. "Double agent: Glial cells can protect or kill neurons, vision." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100201171647.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

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
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) — Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

AFP (July 24, 2014) — America's death penalty debate raged Thursday after it took nearly two hours for Arizona to execute a prisoner who lost a Supreme Court battle challenging the experimental lethal drug cocktail. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
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

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