Press Releases & Research Commentary
April 24, 2015
New research published today in the journal Nature Communications represents a potentially fundamental shift in our understanding of how nerve cells in the brain generate the energy needed to function. The study shows neurons are more independent than previously believed and this research has implications for a range of neurological disorders.
These findings suggest that we need to rethink the way we look at brain metabolism,said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., co-director of the University of Rochester Center for Translational Neuromedicine and lead author of the study.
Neurons, and not the brain's support cells, are the primary consumers of glucose and this consumption appears to correlate with brain activity.
February 13, 2015
At upper left, a healthy astrocyte (a supportive brain cell) is shown in blue between green sheaths of myelin, which are produced by oligodendrocytes, the tentacled objects also seen in green.In individuals suffering from Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy, JC viruses (red particles) first infect the astrocyte (upper right) and mutate, eventually causing the astrocyte to explode (bottom image). The viruses then infect the oligodendrocytes.
When University researchers Steven Goldman and Maiken Nedergaard created a mouse model whose brains consisted of both animal neurons and human glia cells, their study initially focused on findings that the human cells essentially made the mice smarter.
However, they also created a powerful new platform for researchers to study human glial cells in experimental animals. And that is providing new insights into Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML).
The study, out today in the journal Cell Stem Cell, suggests that the evolution of a subset of glia called astrocytes – which are larger and more complex in humans than other species – may have been one of the key events that led to the higher cognitive functions that distinguish us from other species.
For more information please visit the URMC Newsroom article.
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