One of two proteins that regulate nerve cells and assist in overallbrain function may be the key to preventing long-term damage as aresult of a stroke , the leading cause of disability and third leading cause of deathin the United States. In a recent study published in the Journal of Neuroscience , Bonnie Firestein, professor of cell biology and neuroscience, inthe School of Arts and Sciences, says the new research indicatesthat increased production of two proteins - cypin and PSD-95 -results in very different outcomes. While cypin - a protein that regulates nerve cell and neuronbranching critical to normal brain functioning - prevents nervecells not damaged during the initial stroke from losing the abilityto communicate with other cells and halts any secondary brain orneurological damage, PSD-95 accelerates cell destruction andinhibits recovery. Secondary injury from a stroke can occur days oreven weeks after the injury and often includes a lack of bloodflow, insufficient oxygen, and swelling of the brain. "We don't know how or why cypin acts during this process, but whatwe do know is that cypin helps nerve cells survive," saidFirestein, who first isolated and identified cypin more than adecade ago. |
Since then, she has been researching how it works inthe brain and could be used to treat traumatic brain injury and other serious neurological disorders. Firestein and her former graduate student Chia-Yi Tseng conductedthe laboratory research by putting nerve cells in a dish andcreating an "experimental stroke" - mimicking a massive amount ofglutamate released, resulting in nerve cells destroyed. They wanted to determine if anything could be done to stop thesecondary damage that occurs after a stroke and discovered thatwhile a greater number of neurons that survived the stroke werespared secondary destruction with increased amounts of cypin, toomuch PSD-95 resulted in the death of nerve cells not damagedinititally. "I would hope that this research aids in the development of aneffective therapeutic intervention, saving neurons and reducing thelong-term effects of stroke and other traumatic brain injuries,"said Firestein. Additional References Citations.
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