Vitamin P as a potential approach for the treatment of damaged motor neurons

April 2, 2013 by Julia Weiler

Biologists from the Ruhr-Universität Bochum have explored how to protect neurons that control movements from dying off. In the journal Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience they report that the molecule 7,8-Dihydroxyflavone, also known as vitamin P, ensures the survival of motor neurons in culture. It sends the survival signal on another path than the molecule Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which was previously considered a candidate for the treatment of motoneuron diseases or after spinal cord damage.

The only had a limited effect when tested on humans, and even had partially negative consequences", says Prof. Dr. Stefan Wiese from the RUB Work Group for . "Therefore we are looking for alternative ways to find new approaches for the treatment of such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis."

Same effect, different mode of action

In previous studies, researchers hypothesised that vitamin P is an analogue of BDNF and thus works in the same way. This theory has been disproved by the team led by Dr. Teresa Tsai and Prof. Stefan Wiese from the Group for Molecular Cell Biology and the Department of and Molecular Neurobiology headed by Prof. Andreas Faissner. Both substances ensure that isolated motor neurons of the mouse survive in cell culture and grow new processes, but what exactly the molecules trigger at the varies. BDNF activates two signalling pathways, the so-called MAP kinase and PI3K/AKT signal paths. Vitamin P on the other hand makes use only of the latter.

The dose is crucial

However, vitamin P only unfolded its positive effects on the in a very small concentration range. "These results show how important an accurate determination of dose and effect is", says Prof. Wiese. An overdose of vitamin P reduced the survival effect, and over a certain amount, no more positive effects occurred at all. The researchers hope that vitamin P could have less negative side effects than BDNF. "It is easier to use, because vitamin P, in contrast to BDNF, can pass the blood-brain barrier and therefore does not have to be introduced into the cerebrospinal fluid using pumps like BDNF," says Wiese.

Explore further: Taking the fate of stem cells in hand: Researchers generate immature nerve cells

More information: T. Tsai, A. Klausmeyer, R. Conrad, C. Gottschling, M. Leo, A. Faissner, S. Wiese (2013): 7,8-Dihydroxyflavone leads to survival of cultured embryonic motoneurons by 2 activating intracellular signaling pathways, Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, DOI: 10.1016/j.mcn.2013.02.007

Related Stories

Making memories: How one protein does it

March 5, 2012

Studying tiny bits of genetic material that control protein formation in the brain, Johns Hopkins scientists say they have new clues to how memories are made and how drugs might someday be used to stop disruptions in the ...

Discovery may lead to new treatment for Rett Syndrome

January 28, 2012

Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University have discovered that a molecule critical to the development and plasticity of nerve cells – brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) -- is severely lacking in brainstem ...

Recommended for you

Artificial beta cells

December 8, 2016

Researchers led by ETH Professor Martin Fussenegger at the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering (D-BSSE) in Basel have produced artificial beta cells using a straightforward engineering approach.

Key regulator of bone development identified

December 8, 2016

Loss of a key protein leads to defects in skeletal development including reduced bone density and a shortening of the fingers and toes—a condition known as brachydactyly. The discovery was made by researchers at Penn State ...

Researchers question lifelong immunity to toxoplasmosis

December 8, 2016

Medical students are taught that once infected with Toxoplasma gondii—the "cat parasite"—then you're protected from reinfection for the rest of your life. This dogma should be questioned, argue researchers in an Opinion ...

TET proteins drive early neurogenesis

December 7, 2016

The fate of stem cells is determined by series of choices that sequentially narrow their available options until stem cells' offspring have found their station and purpose in the body. Their decisions are guided in part by ...

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.