Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nerve cells can work in different ways with same result

Date:
July 1, 2013
Source:
University of Missouri-Columbia
Summary:
Epilepsy, irregular heartbeats and other conditions caused by malfunctions in the body's nerve cells, also known as neurons, can be difficult to treat. The problem is that one medicine may help some patients but not others. Doctors' ability to predict which drugs will work with individual patients may be influenced by recent University of Missouri research that found seemingly identical neurons can behave the same even though they are built differently under the surface.

Epilepsy, irregular heartbeats and other conditions caused by malfunctions in the body's nerve cells, also known as neurons, can be difficult to treat. The problem is that one medicine may help some patients but not others. Doctors' ability to predict which drugs will work with individual patients may be influenced by recent University of Missouri research that found seemingly identical neurons can behave the same even though they are built differently under the surface.

"To paraphrase Leo Tolstoy, 'every unhappy nervous system is unhappy in its own way,' especially for individuals with epilepsy and other diseases," said David Schulz, associate professor of biological sciences in MU's College of Arts and Science. "Our study suggests that each patient's neurons may be altered in different ways, although the resulting disease is the same. This could be a major reason why doctors have difficulty predicting which medicines will be effective with specific individuals. The same problem could affect treatment of heart arrhythmia, depression and many other neurological conditions."

It turns out, even happy neurons may be happy in their own way. Neurons have a natural electric activity that they are biologically programmed to maintain. If a neuron isn't in that preferred state, the cell tries to restore it. However, contrary to some previous beliefs about neuron functioning, Schulz's research found that two essentially identical neurons can reach the same preferred electrical activity in different ways.

In Schulz's study, individual neurons used different combinations of cellular pores, known as ion channels, to achieve the same end goal of their preferred electrical and chemical balances. Schulz compared the situation to five people in separate rooms being given sets of blocks and told to construct a tower. Each person could devise a different method for constructing the same structure.

Schulz's finding could inform doctor's treatment of epilepsy. In epileptics, the neurons of the brain frequently receive too little stimulation from other neurons. Those under-stimulated epileptic neurons may overcompensate and become too sensitive. Then, when any impulses actually do reach them from other neurons, those hyper-sensitive epileptic neurons may over-react and cause a seizure.

Schulz worked with Satish Nair, professor of electrical and computer engineering in MU's College of Engineering. The collaboration allowed their team to model nerve cell behavior in computer simulations in addition to his physical experiments using crab nervous systems.

The study, "Neurons with the same network independently achieve conserved output by differentially balancing variable conductance magnitudes," was published in the Journal of Neuroscience. Joseph L. Ransdell, an MU doctoral student was the lead researcher of the study.

This research is an example of collaborative research, which is a hallmark of Mizzou Advantage. Mizzou Advantage is a program that focuses on four areas of MU strength: food for the future, media of the future, one health, one medicine, and sustainable energy. The goals of Mizzou Advantage are to strengthen existing faculty networks, create new networks and propel Mizzou's research, instruction and other activities to the next level.


Story Source:

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


Cite This Page:

University of Missouri-Columbia. "Nerve cells can work in different ways with same result." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130701135818.htm>.
University of Missouri-Columbia. (2013, July 1). Nerve cells can work in different ways with same result. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130701135818.htm
University of Missouri-Columbia. "Nerve cells can work in different ways with same result." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130701135818.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola Cases Keep Coming for Monrovia's Island Hospital

Ebola Cases Keep Coming for Monrovia's Island Hospital

AFP (Oct. 1, 2014) A look inside Monrovia's Island Hospital, a key treatment centre in the fight against Ebola in Liberia's capital city. Duration: 00:34 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Puts Stress on Liberian Health Workers

Ebola Puts Stress on Liberian Health Workers

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) The Ebola outbreak is putting stress on first responders in Liberia. Ambulance drivers say they are struggling with chronic shortages of safety equipment and patients who don't want to go to the hospital. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctors Reassure Public Ebola Patient Won't Cause Outbreak

Doctors Reassure Public Ebola Patient Won't Cause Outbreak

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) After the announcement that the first U.S. patient had been diagnosed with Ebola, doctors were quick to say a U.S. outbreak is highly unlikely. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
TX Hospital Confirms Patient Admitted With Ebola

TX Hospital Confirms Patient Admitted With Ebola

AP (Sep. 30, 2014) Medical officials from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital confirm they are treating a patient with the Ebola virus, the first case found in the US. (Sept. 30 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