Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'UnZIPPING' zinc protects hippocampal neurons

Date:
January 10, 2011
Source:
Baylor College of Medicine
Summary:
Researchers have discovered that zinc enters cells through specialized protein gates known as ZIP transporters, and removing these ZIP proteins from cells in the hippocampus (an area of the brain that facilitates storing and retrieving memory) significantly protects them from injury.

Zinc ions released at the junction between two neurons (called a synapse) are important signals, but when too much zinc accumulates, cells become dysfunctional or die.

Researchers in the Blue Bird Circle Developmental Neurogenetics Laboratory in the department of neurology at Baylor College of Medicine have discovered that zinc enters cells through specialized protein gates known as ZIP transporters, and removing these ZIP proteins from cells in the hippocampus (an area of the brain that facilitates storing and retrieving memory) significantly protects them from injury. The results are published in the latest issue of Journal of Neuroscience.

"These findings pave the way for the development of a new type of neuroprotective medicine for conditions such as seizures, stroke, brain trauma and other neurodegenerative disorders," said Dr. Jeffrey L. Noebels, professor of neurology, neuroscience and molecular and human genetics at BCM as well as director of the Blue Bird Circle Developmental Neurogenetics Laboratory. Many laboratories are looking for such drugs, and this provides an important clue.

Large amounts of synaptic zinc are found in the hippocampus. However, this brain circuit is a common site for epileptic seizures, and hippocampal cells are extremely vulnerable to damage during a prolonged brain "storm," as seizures are sometimes called. Since seizures activate many other molecules that may potentially injure cells and also are accompanied by a cutoff off of oxygen and glucose to nerves, the contribution of excessive zinc released during the seizure has not been clear.

Zinc finds its way into brain cells through multiple entry sites: ion channels, glutamate receptors, and a family of special uptake transporters known as ZIP proteins. Dr. Jing Qian, assistant professor of neurology at BCM, used optical imaging techniques in brain slices to demonstrate that most zinc enters neurons through two ZIP proteins, ZIP1 and ZIP3. Qian also found that the entry is accelerated by neuronal firing.

When he analyzed cellular damage following prolonged seizures in mice that were genetically engineered to be missing the two ZIP genes, he found that a crucial group of hippocampal neurons are remarkably undamaged following even severe seizures lasting six hours or longer.

"This study is exciting, because for the first time we have shown that reducing zinc entry alone, without removing it from the diet or interfering with its other important functions, is an effective way to protect brain cells from damage due to seizures, and probably a variety of other insults to the brain," said Noebels. "We now believe these ZIP proteins represent new and important molecular targets for the development of drugs that can specifically reduce zinc entry and protect memory circuits in the brain from damage."

Others who took part in the research include Kaiping Xu, Jong Yoo, and Tim T. Chen, all of BCM and Glen Andrews of the University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kansas.

Funding for this research came from the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the Blue Bird Circle Pediatric Neurology Research Foundation.

Noebels holds the Cullen Trust for Health Care Endowed Chair.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

Baylor College of Medicine. "'UnZIPPING' zinc protects hippocampal neurons." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 January 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110104182933.htm>.
Baylor College of Medicine. (2011, January 10). 'UnZIPPING' zinc protects hippocampal neurons. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110104182933.htm
Baylor College of Medicine. "'UnZIPPING' zinc protects hippocampal neurons." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/01/110104182933.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
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