Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Lactate and brain function: How the body regulates fundamental neuro-hormone

Date:
February 11, 2014
Source:
University of Bristol
Summary:
New research has revealed a previously unknown mechanism in the body which regulates a hormone that is crucial for motivation, stress responses and control of blood pressure, pain and appetite. The breakthrough could be used to design drugs to help fight health problems connected with these functions in the future.

The main cells of the brain, with neurons in yellow and astrocytes in orange.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Bristol

New research has revealed a previously unknown mechanism in the body which regulates a hormone that is crucial for motivation, stress responses and control of blood pressure, pain and appetite. The breakthrough could be used to design drugs to help fight health problems connected with these functions in the future.

Researchers at the University of Bristol and University College London found that lactate -- essentially lactic acid -- causes cells in the brain to release more noradrenaline (norepinephrine in US English), a hormone and neurotransmitter which is fundamental for brain function. Without it people can hardly wake up or focus on anything.

Production of lactate can be triggered by muscle use, which reinforces the connection between exercise and positive mental wellbeing.

Lactate was first discovered in sour milk by Swedish chemist, Carl Wilhelm Scheele in 1780. It is produced naturally by the body, for example when muscles are at work. In the brain, it has always been regarded as an energy source which can be delivered to neurons as fuel to keep them working when brain activity increases.

This research, published today [11 February] in Nature Communications, identifies a secondary function for lactate as a signal between brain cells. It implies that there is an as yet unknown receptor for lactate in the brain which must be present on noradrenaline cells to make them sensitive to lactate.

Professor Sergey Kasparov, from Bristol University's School of Physiology and Pharmacology, said: "Our findings suggest that lactate has more than one incarnation -- in addition to its role as an energy source, it is also a signal to neurons to release more noradrenaline."

Dr Anja Teschemacher, also from the University of Bristol, added: "The next big task is to identify the receptor which mediates this effect because this will help to design drugs to block or stimulate this response. If we can regulate the release of noradrenaline -- which is absolutely fundamental for brain function -- then this could have important implications for the treatment of major health problems such as stress, blood pressure, pain and depression."

Astrocytes, small non-neuronal star-shaped cells in the brain and spinal cord, are the principle source of brain lactate. The discovery that astrocytes communicate directly with neurons opens up a whole new area of pharmacology which has been little explored.

The research was funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), the Medical Research Council (MRC), The Wellcome Trust and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. F. Tang, S. Lane, A. Korsak, J. F. R. Paton, A. V. Gourine, S. Kasparov, A. G. Teschemacher. Lactate-mediated glia-neuronal signalling in the mammalian brain. Nature Communications, 2014; 5 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms4284

Cite This Page:

University of Bristol. "Lactate and brain function: How the body regulates fundamental neuro-hormone." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140211084053.htm>.
University of Bristol. (2014, February 11). Lactate and brain function: How the body regulates fundamental neuro-hormone. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140211084053.htm
University of Bristol. "Lactate and brain function: How the body regulates fundamental neuro-hormone." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140211084053.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Sierra Leone's Nationwide Ebola Curfew Underway

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) Sierra Leone is locked down as aid workers and volunteers look for new cases of Ebola. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Changes Found In Brain After One Dose Of Antidepressants

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) A study suggest antidepressants can kick in much sooner than previously thought. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Could Grief Affect The Immune Systems Of Senior Citizens?

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) The study found elderly people are much more likely to become susceptible to infection than younger adults going though a similar situation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

Jury Delivers Verdict in Salmonella Trial

AP (Sep. 19, 2014) A federal jury has convicted three people in connection with an outbreak of salmonella poisoning five years ago that sickened hundreds of people and was linked to a number of deaths. (Sept. 19) 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:
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