A VIP for normal brain development

July 1, 2011

led by Pierre Gressens, at Inserm U676, Paris, France, and Vincent Lelièvre, at CNRS UPR-3212, Strasbourg, France -- has identified a signaling pathway key for normal brain development in the mouse. Of paramount importance, the data generated suggest that environmental factors, including maternal ones, can influence the final size of the brain.

Individuals with microcephaly primary hereditary (MCPH) are born with a very small head and a small brain. They suffer mild developmental delay, hyperkinesia (excessive restlessness), and mild to severe cognitive impairment. Although mutation of any one of seven genes is known to cause MCPH, a lack of good animal models has made it hard to understand the underlying mechanisms.

To gain insight into this, Gressens, Lelievre, and colleagues used a mouse model in which microcephaly is induced by blocking the peptide VIP during gestation using a VIP antagonist (VA). Initial analysis indicated that prenatal administration of VA gives rise to brain abnormalities that mimic those observed in patients with MCPH. Further analysis identified a cellular and molecular mechanism for the observed abnormalities. The authors therefore conclude that the identified molecular pathway (the VIP/Mcph1/Chk1 pathway) is key for normal and suggest that environmental factors disturbing this pathway can modulate the development of the brain as well as its final size.

More information: www.jci.org/articles/view/43824?key=1236357151332f9ec680

Related Stories

Recommended for you

High-fat diet starves the brain

April 29, 2016

A high-fat diet of three days in mice leads to a reduction in the amount of glucose that reaches the brain. This finding was reported by a Research Group led by Jens Brüning, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism ...

A vitamin that stops the aging process of organs

April 28, 2016

Nicotinamide riboside (NR) is pretty amazing. It has already been shown in several studies to be effective in boosting metabolism. And now a team of researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Integrated Systems Physiology (LISP), ...

Lifestyle has a strong impact on intestinal bacteria

April 28, 2016

Everything you eat or drink affects your intestinal bacteria, and is likely to have an impact on your health. That is the finding of a large-scale study led by RUG/UMCG geneticist Cisca Wijmenga into the effect of food and ...

Tiny microscopes reveal hidden role of nervous system cells

April 28, 2016

A microscope about the size of a penny is giving scientists a new window into the everyday activity of cells within the spinal cord. The innovative technology revealed that astrocytes—cells in the nervous system that do ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.