Repetitive sounds leave young brain starved for blood vessels

December 4, 2013 by Bill Hathaway
Excessive brain activity caused by stimuli such as repetitive sounds cause a reduction in blood vessels (green) in newborn mice and create areas of low oxygen content (red), Yale researchers have found. The researchers ask whether similar stimuli in human infants might cause long term damage in developing brains of human children.

(Medical Xpress)—Repetitive sounds and seizures experienced in infancy can permanently hinder formation of blood vessels in the brains of mice, Yale University researchers report online Dec. 4 in the journal Nature.

The findings raise an intriguing question, note the researchers: Can similar stimuli during infancy in humans, such as fever-related seizures and lengthy exposure to blaring music cause a long-term reduction in ?

"This could have negative repercussions in normal brain function and increase susceptibility to age-related brain disorders including cognitive decline," said Jaime Grutzendler, associate professor of neurology and neurobiology and senior author of the study.

Angiogenesis—or the formation of new blood vessels—occurs in the brain during embryonic stages and for a period after birth. Grutzendler and colleagues Christina Whiteus and Caterina Freitas wanted to know how the growing brain acquired an appropriate number of blood vessels after birth and whether brain activity influenced their growth.

In the study, researchers exposed the mice to repetitive sounds and exercises. They found that during the first month of life in mice—the equivalent of two years in humans—the formation of new blood vessels was almost completely blocked by these stimulations, specifically in areas of the brain that processed the repetitive stimuli. They also showed that repetitive stimuli increased cells' production of nitric oxide, which in turn caused the interruption of new vessel formation. Seizures also dramatically reduced the formation of blood vessels.

Interestingly, mice older than a month showed no ill effects from sounds, seizures, or prolonged exercise. However, in younger mice, the reduction in blood vessels was permanent and led to pockets of oxygen-deprived areas and affected the health of neuronal connections.

Scientists had known that excessive neural activity like directly disrupted the development of . Although more study is needed, the new research shows repetitive stimulation also has a permanent effect on the blood vessels, making the brain potentially more susceptible to disease.

Explore further: Drugs targeting blood vessels may be candidates for treating Alzheimer's

More information: dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature12821

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Formaldehyde damages proteins, not just DNA

September 29, 2016

The capacity of formaldehyde, a chemical frequently used in manufactured goods such as automotive parts and wood products, to damage DNA, interfere with cell replication and cause cancer inspired new federal regulations this ...

Synthetic 3D-printed material helps bones regrow

September 28, 2016

A cheap and easy to make synthetic bone material has been shown to stimulate new bone growth when implanted in the spines of rats and a monkey's skull, researchers said Wednesday.

Epigenetic clock predicts life expectancy

September 28, 2016

UCLA geneticist Steve Horvath led a team of 65 scientists in seven countries to record age-related changes to human DNA, calculate biological age and estimate a person's lifespan. A higher biological age—regardless of chronological ...

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.