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.

Related Articles


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 October 24, 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 October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) — An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Breakfast Debate: To Eat Or Not To Eat?

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) — Conflicting studies published in the same week re-ignited the debate over whether we should be eating breakfast. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

Ebola Fears Keep Guinea Hospitals Empty

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) — Fears of Ebola are keeping doctors and patients alike away from hospitals in the West African nation of Guinea. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

Despite Rising Death Toll, Many Survive Ebola

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) — The family of a Dallas nurse infected with Ebola in the US says doctors can no longer detect the virus in her. Despite the mounting death toll in West Africa, there are survivors there too. (Oct. 23) 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