Study points to possible treatment for brain disorders

Green fluorescent protein (green) labeled cells in the mouse brain are assayed for mTOR activity using phospho-S6 immunostaining (red). Credit: Nathaniel Hartman

Clemson University scientists are working to determine how neurons are generated, which is vital to providing treatment for neurological disorders like Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC).

TSC is a that causes the growth of tumors in the and other vital organs and may indicate such as autism, epilepsy and cognitive impairment that may arise from the abnormal generation of .

"Current medicine is directed at inhibiting the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), a common feature within these tumors that have abnormally high activity," said David M Feliciano, assistant professor of biological sciences. "However, current treatments have severe side effects, likely due to mTOR's many functions and playing an important role in cell survival, growth and migration."

Feliciano and colleagues published their findings in journal Cell Reports.

"Neural generate the primary communicating cells of the brain called neurons through the process of neurogenesis, yet how this is orchestrated is unknown," said Feliciano.

The stem cells lie at the core of brain development and repair, and alterations in the cells' self-renewal and differentiation can have major consequences for brain function at any stage of life, according to researchers.

To better understand the process of neurogenesis, the researchers used a genetic approach known as neonatal electroporation to deliver pieces of DNA into neural stem cells in young mice, which allowed them to express and control specific components of the mTOR pathway.

The researchers found that when they increase activity of the mTOR pathway, make neurons at the expense of making more stem cells. They also found that this phenomenon is linked to a specific mTOR target known as 4E-BP2, which regulates the production of proteins.

Ultimately, this study points to a possible new treatment, 4E-BP2, for neurodevelopmental disorders like TSC and may have fewer side effects.

Future experiments are aimed at identifying which proteins are synthesized due to this pathway in neurological disorders.

Related Stories

Advance in tuberous sclerosis brain science

May 09, 2013

Doctors often diagnose tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) based on the abnormal growths the genetic disease causes in organs around the body. Those overt anatomical structures, however, belie the microscopic ...

Recommended for you

Student seeks to improve pneumonia vaccines

Aug 20, 2014

Almost a million Americans fall ill with pneumonia each year. Nearly half of these cases require hospitalization, and 5-7 percent are fatal. Current vaccines provide protection against some strains of the ...

Seabed solution for cold sores

Aug 20, 2014

The blue blood of abalone, a seabed delicacy could be used to combat common cold sores and related herpes virus following breakthrough research at the University of Sydney.

Better living through mitochondrial derived vesicles

Aug 19, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—As principal transformers of bacteria, organelles, synapses, and cells, vesicles might be said to be the stuff of life. One need look no further than the rapid rise to prominence of The ...

Zebrafish help to unravel Alzheimer's disease

Aug 19, 2014

New fundamental knowledge about the regulation of stem cells in the nerve tissue of zebrafish embryos results in surprising insights into neurodegenerative disease processes in the human brain. A new study by scientists at ...

User comments