New research sheds light on underlying cause of brain injury in stroke

March 15, 2018, University of Plymouth
Single oligodendrocyte cell in green and the myelin it produces in red. These are the structures protected by the new drug, QNZ-46. Credit: University of Plymouth

New research shows how the novel drug QNZ-46 can help to lessen the effects of excess release of glutamate in the brain – the main cause of brain injury in stroke.

Published in Nature Communications, the study shows how identifying the source of damaging in leads to discovery of brain protection with QNZ-46, a novel form of preventative treatment with clinical potential.

Existing studies show that restricted blood supply promotes the excess release of glutamate. The glutamate binds to receptors, over-stimulating them and leading to the break-down of myelin – the protective sheath around the nerve fibre (axon).

Previous studies had focused on the brain's grey – the area where all of the synapses operate. Now the new study focuses on – the part of the brain the connects all of the grey matter together – and demonstrates that the from axons themselves contributes to damaging myelin.

The study, led by Professor Robert Fern at the Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry (PUPSMD), is the first direct comparison of vesicular fusion within different cellular components in white matter, and it reveals extensive fusion in axons – a mechanism previously thought to be absent from white matter.

The findings support a rational approach toward a low-impact prophylactic therapy, such as QNZ-46, to protect patients at risk of stroke and other forms of excitotoxic injury (injury caused by excess glutamate).

As stroke is the second leading cause of disability and early death in the UK, Professor Fern, part of the University's Institute of Translational and Stratified Medicine, explains the significance of the findings.

"Strokes are known to be caused by loss of blood to the brain, and there has been no way to treat the condition," he said.

"As much as rehabilitation can be effective, there's nothing you can do to heal the damage. This is why it has been necessary to look at how the problem is caused in the first place.

"Myelin damage results in severe functional deficit in the white matter of the , for example in ischemic – caused by lack of – stroke. By identifying how this happens, we have been able to show how QNZ-46 can be used to prevent the damage.

"There need to be further studies to fully understand how these findings can translate going forward, but to see that there are no negative side effects at this stage is a promising sign. By continuing further studies, we can come up with even better forms of the drug to help in stroke treatment."

Explore further: Peritoneal dialysis as an intervention for stroke patients

More information: Sean Doyle et al. Vesicular glutamate release from central axons contributes to myelin damage, Nature Communications (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-03427-1

Related Stories

Peritoneal dialysis as an intervention for stroke patients

September 3, 2013
Ischemic stroke is characterized by an interruption of the blood supply to the brain, which can lead to brain damage and even death. Excess amounts of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate are released during stroke events ...

ADHD drugs increase brain glutamate, predict positive emotion in healthy people

March 14, 2018
A new study shows that healthy people who take attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drugs experience a surge in the neurotransmitter glutamate in key parts of the brain. And that increase in glutamate is associated ...

Glutamate imaging better than MR spectroscopy in first three hours after ischemic stroke

May 7, 2014
Glutamate imaging reveals ischemic lesions in the first 3 hours after stroke that are not distinguishable in T1-weighted and T2-weighted imaging.

New research reveals brain's protection mechanism during stroke

August 16, 2011
Neuroscientists have identified a natural protection mechanism in some of the brain's nerve cells during the onset of stroke. The findings, published today in the Journal of Neuroscience, could be used to develop treatments ...

Study shows how brain begins repairs after 'silent strokes'

December 20, 2016
UCLA researchers have shown that the brain can be repaired—and brain function can be recovered—after a stroke in animals. The discovery could have important implications for treating a mind-robbing condition known as ...

Recommended for you

Aggression neurons identified

May 25, 2018
High activity in a relatively poorly studied group of brain cells can be linked to aggressive behaviour in mice, a new study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden shows. Using optogenetic techniques, the researchers were able ...

The brain's frontal lobe could be involved in chronic pain, according to research

May 25, 2018
A University of Toronto scientist has discovered the brain's frontal lobe is involved in pain transmission to the spine. If his findings in animals bear out in people, the discovery could lead to a new class of non-addictive ...

Doctors fail to flag concussion patients for critical follow-up

May 25, 2018
As evidence builds of more long-term effects linked to concussion, a nationwide study led by scientists at UCSF and the University of Southern California has found that more than half of the patients seen at top-level trauma ...

Bursts of brain activity linked to memory reactivation

May 24, 2018
Leading theories propose that sleep presents an opportune time for important, new memories to become stabilized. And it's long been known which brain waves are produced during sleep. But in a new study, researchers set out ...

Study suggests brainwave link between disparate disorders

May 24, 2018
A brainwave abnormality could be a common link between Parkinson's disease, neuropathic pain, tinnitus and depression—a link that authors of a new study suggest could lead to treatment for all four conditions.

Researchers define molecular basis to explain link between a pregnant mother's nutrition and infant growth

May 24, 2018
For years, pregnant mothers have questioned their nutritional habits: "Will eating more cause my baby to be overweight?" Or, "I'm eating for two, so it won't hurt to have an extra serving, right?"

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.