Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brainstem discovered as important relay site after stroke

Date:
February 25, 2014
Source:
University of Zurich
Summary:
After a stroke, sufferers are often faced with the problem of severe movement impairment. Researchers have now discovered that the brainstem could play a major role in the recovery of motor functions. The projection of neurons from this ancient part of the brain into the spinal cord leads to the neural impulses needed for motion being rerouted. The brain does have a "considerable capacity for regeneration" explains the lead author.

After a stroke, sufferers are often faced with the problem of severe movement impairment. Researchers at the Brain Research Institute of the University of Zurich have now discovered that the brainstem could play a major role in the recovery of motor functions. The projection of neurons from this ancient part of the brain into the spinal cord leads to the neural impulses needed for motion being rerouted.

Around 16,000 people in Switzerland suffer a stroke every year. Often the result of a sudden occlusion of a vessel supplying the brain, it is the most frequent live-threatening neurological disorder. In most cases, it has far-reaching consequences for survivors. Often the stroke sufferers have to cope with handicaps and rehabilitation is a long process. The brain does, however, have a "considerable capacity for regeneration" explains Lukas Bachmann from the Brain Research Institute of the University of Zurich. As member of Professor Martin Schwab's research team, he found that the brainstem, the oldest region in the brain, could play an important role in recovery. The results have now been published in The Journal of Neuroscience.

The healthy half of the brain assumes control

A stroke in the cerebral cortex frequently leads to motor constraints of one half of the body, to what is known as hemiparesis. This is due to the loss of neuron pathways which transmit signals from the cortex to the spinal cord. As these pathways are crossed, the side of the body contralateral to the affected half of the brain is affected. The major impairments at the beginning are often only temporary and stroke sufferers can sometimes stage an amazing recovery. "The side of the body affected is increasingly controlled by the ipsilateral side of the cortex, i.e. the healthy side," explains Lukas Bachmann. As the neuron pathways are crossed, this raised the following question for the neuroscientists: by which pathway are the signals rerouted from the motor cortex to the ipsilateral parts of the spinal cord?

Sprouting of neurons from the brainstem

In their study in mice the researchers in Martin Schwab's team now demonstrate that the brainstem probably plays a key role in the rerouting of neural impulses. Images of the brain show that after a major stroke nerve fibers from specific core regions of the brain sprout into the area of the spinal cord that had lost its input after a stroke. "At the same time, more fibers sprout from the intact cortex into these same regions of the brainstem," continues Lukas Bachmann. These changes in the neuronal circuits may mediate the non-crossed flow of nerve impulses after a stroke. "This could turn out to be a key mechanism which facilitates recovery after a stroke," says the brain researcher. The scientists now want to use these findings to steer the sprouting of neurons in various areas of the brain by means of targeted therapy to maximise the recovery of motor functions.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Lukas C. Bachmann, Nicolas T. Lindau, Petra Felder, Martin E. Schwab. Sprouting of Brainstem–Spinal Tracts in Response to Unilateral Motor Cortex Stroke in Mice. The Journal of Neuroscience., February 2014 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4384-13.2014

Cite This Page:

University of Zurich. "Brainstem discovered as important relay site after stroke." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140225193233.htm>.
University of Zurich. (2014, February 25). Brainstem discovered as important relay site after stroke. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140225193233.htm
University of Zurich. "Brainstem discovered as important relay site after stroke." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140225193233.htm (accessed September 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, September 20, 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