Study identifies potential therapy for disease affecting preemies

March 13, 2018 by Ziba Kashef, Yale University

One in five very low-birth-weight, premature infants suffers a life-threatening brain hemorrhage, often originating in a vital region known as the germinal matrix. In a recently published study in the journal Developmental Cell, Yale researchers identified a protein that lessens the hemorrhaging in embryonic mice, and they say could potentially serve as a therapy in affected humans.

To better understand the hemorrhage disorder, the Yale team studied embryonic mice models lacking a key gene (Alk5) in pericytes—cells that contribute to the walls of small blood vessels in the brain. They first observed that mutant embryonic mice lacking this gene in pericytes develop the condition known as germinal matrix hemorrhage. Interestingly, said the researchers, the deleterious effects of gene deletion were primarily on endothelial cells, which form the inner lining of . In the mutant mice, communication between pericytes and failed, leading to abnormal vessel dilation and hemorrhage.

Through their experiments, the researchers also identified a protein (TIMP3) that is regulated by Alk5. By injecting this protein into the , they were able to compensate for the missing gene and dramatically lessen bleeding.

More research is needed to confirm the benefits of the protein as therapy. If it bears out, the discovery could also have implications for other conditions involving damage to brain vessels, such as hemorrhagic stroke in adults, the researchers said.

Explore further: Faults in the blood-brain barrier implicated in dementia

More information: Jui M. Dave et al. Pericyte ALK5/TIMP3 Axis Contributes to Endothelial Morphogenesis in the Developing Brain, Developmental Cell (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2018.01.018

Related Stories

Faults in the blood-brain barrier implicated in dementia

February 6, 2018
California based researchers have found that damage to cells known as pericytes, which surround small blood vessels in the brain, may trigger a chain of events that results in brain degeneration. The findings are published ...

Key protein may affect risk of stroke

June 26, 2015
Studies on mice reveal that a special protein in the brain's tiniest blood vessels may affect the risk of stroke. Peter Carlsson, professor in genetics at the University of Gothenburg, and his research team are publishing ...

Early intervention in brain inflammatory pathways may improve stroke recovery

November 28, 2016
Intracerebral hemorrhage is a type of stroke characterized by the rupture of a blood vessel within the brain. When the brain is exposed to blood, local immune cells become activated, triggering inflammation that promotes ...

How blood vessels are formed

September 15, 2017
Researchers at Heidelberg University have discovered a crucial biological step that regulates the formation of blood vessels. They were able to show that the proteins YAP and TAZ play an important role in this process. The ...

Revealing snapshots: Advanced imaging uncovers how the brain responds to vascular injury

January 2, 2018
Pericytes, a little-understood type of cell on the brain's blood vessels, grow into the empty space left when neighboring pericytes die, report researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) in a January 2nd, ...

Cells that make blood vessels can also make tumors and enable their spread

June 19, 2017
While it's widely held that tumors can produce blood vessels to support their growth, scientists now have evidence that cells key to blood vessel formation can also produce tumors and enable their spread.

Recommended for you

Gradual release of immunotherapy at site of tumor surgery prevents tumors from returning

March 21, 2018
A new study by Dana-Farber Cancer Institute scientists suggests it may be possible to prevent tumors from recurring and to eradicate metastatic growths by implanting a gel containing immunotherapy during surgical removal ...

Cold can activate body's 'good' fat at a cellular level, study finds

March 21, 2018
Lower temperatures can activate the body's 'good' fat formation at a cellular level, a new study led by academics at The University of Nottingham has found.

Immune cells in the retina can spontaneously regenerate

March 21, 2018
Immune cells called microglia can completely repopulate themselves in the retina after being nearly eliminated, according to a new study in mice from scientists at the National Eye Institute (NEI). The cells also re-establish ...

Switch discovered to convert blood vessels to blood stem cells in embryonic development

March 20, 2018
A switch has been discovered that instructs blood vessel cells to become blood stem cells during embryonic development in mice. Using single-cell technology, researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute in Cambridge and ...

Stem cells treat macular degeneration

March 19, 2018
In July 2015, 86-year-old Douglas Waters developed severe age-related macular degeneration (AMD). He struggled to see things clearly, even when up close.

Don't blame adolescent social behavior on hormones

March 19, 2018
Reproductive hormones that develop during puberty are not responsible for changes in social behavior that occur during adolescence, according to the results of a newly published study by a University at Buffalo researcher.


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.