11 foods for improved brain function and health

11 foods for improved brain function and health

timolina, AdobeStock Baked salmon garnished with asparagus and tomatoes with herbs. Fish and vegetables are among foods that promote brain health. Our happy hormone serotonin, is overwhelmingly produced — 95% — in our gastrointestinal tracts, according to Simply Neuroscience . Since digestion happens at a chemical level, what’s really in our food matters a ton. Knowing why certain foods are more beneficial than others can help us to be more intentional with what ends up on our dinner plates. Here are 11 foods that increase the health and function of the brain — and why. 1. Fatty fish

Important nutrients: Omega-3 fatty acids.

Benefits: Eating fatty fish is proven to slow mental degeneration and stabilize mood swings, per Senior Lifestyle . Alzheimer’s Research UK published a study that showed a correlation between healthier brain structures in middle-aged people and consumption of omega-3 foods. 2. Blueberries

Important nutrients: Anthocyanin.

Benefits: Dietitian Joyce Prescott told Cleveland Clinic , “Research shows that flavonoids are also powerful nutrients and may help explain why plant-based diets are consistently associated with health benefits. We think this is due, in part, to their antioxidant properties.” Anthocyanins are also found in strawberries, raspberries, purple vegetables and raspberries. 3. Eggs

Important nutrients: Choline, lutein and tryptophan.

Benefits: Though eggs have gotten a bad rap over the years due to their relatively high cholesterol levels, they also contain nutrients that promote brain development and can improve memory and motor function.

The Journal of Nutritional Science published a study in 2021, explaining that higher levels of choline in adults was correlated with “improved performance on tasks of processing speed, working memory, memory and visuomotor skill.”

Related 5 superfoods to boost brain health and memory

4. Dark chocolate

Important nutrients: Flavonoids

Benefits: Dr. Tian-Shin Yeh told Harvard Health , “Some studies have suggested flavonoids may offer protective effects for brain cells.” Several animal studies showed flavonol’s ability to decrease plaque growth and increase blood flow in the brain.

“Some studies found flavonoid intake is inversely related to cardiovascular disease, and what is good for the cardiovascular system is also good for the brain,” said Yeh. 5. Oranges

Important nutrients: Flavanoids and vitamin C.

Benefits: Longevity Technology reported on several benefits vitamin C has on the brain, saying it “plays a role in the synthesis of myelin, a fatty substance that accelerates the transmission of electrical signals in the brain,” which increases brain efficiency. They also reported on research that vitamin C may play a role in neuron development. 6. Spinach and green leafy vegetables

Important nutrients: B vitamin folate.

Benefits: B vitamin folate reduces homocysteine levels, according to Taste of Home . Homocysteine is an amino acid that leads to blood clotting and is toxic to neurons. Foods that are high in B vitamin folate include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, peas and kidney beans, according to the NHS . 7. Walnuts

Important nutrients: Omega-3 fatty acid (alpha-linolenic acid).

Benefits: ALA and omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial to the brain and the heart and have been linked to “lower blood pressure and cleaner arteries,” per Harvard Health . Harvard’s article also referenced a study done by UCLA linking walnuts to “improved cognitive test scores.” 8. Bone broth

Important nutrients: Amino acid glycine.

Benefits: Glycine fosters improved memory, reduced stress and better mental awareness, per Owl Venice . Glycine is a “neurotransmitter that has the ability to stimulate or quiet the brain,” and helps the consumer have more control staying alert while awake and calm while asleep. 9. Turmeric

Important nutrients: Turmerone.

Benefits: Alzheimers.org explained that turmerone stimulates the brain to create new cells, which could help with diseases like Alzheimer’s, where the brain faces deterioration. In mice studies, turmerone’s component curcumin seemed to be correlated with reduced oxidative stress and inflammation. 10. Coconut oil

Important nutrients: Medium-chain fatty acid.

Benefits: This fatty acid “creates ketone bodies, which act as an energy source in the brain and may benefit people who have or are developing impaired memory,” per Medical News Today . Coconut oil is great for brain health and has been known “to help with several brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and epilepsy,” Neurotrition added. 11. Whole grains

Important nutrients: Complex carbohydrates. Benefits: High sugar intake is correlated to brain decline, per Cleveland Clinic . Memory and brain health specialist Babak Tousi explained, “As soon as you eat white bread, it breaks down quickly into sugar.”“Whole-grain bread does not.” He continued, “Try to avoid foods that release sugar very quickly into your body. Complex carbohydrates like whole grains are broken down more slowly, so sugar is released gradually, allowing your body to function more efficiently.”

Read more at www.deseret.com

Study finds INSUFFICIENT SLEEP negatively impacts cardiovascular health

Having a poor night’s sleep can not only affect your mood the next day, it can also negatively impact your cardiovascular system .

This was the finding of a study published in Scientific Reports. “Sleep restriction is associated with increased cardiovascular risk,” the study authors wrote, noting that “more than a third of U.S. adults sleep less than recommended seven to eight hours per night.

According to the researchers, female study participants who had a bad night’s sleep had abundant amounts of free radicals in the cells lining the inside of their blood vessels. Compared to participants who had sufficient sleep, the sleep-deprived subjects could not activate the necessary antioxidant response to clear out these free radicals. This is because insufficient sleep reduces the expression of a protein called DCUN1D3, which normally mediates antioxidant responses in the body. Why is getting enough sleep important?

There are two dimensions to sleep – quantity , which is how much sleep you get each night, and quality , which is the depth of your sleep experience, which is when you fall asleep quite easily, do not fully wake up during the night, do not wake up too early and feel refreshed and re-energized in the morning.

The American Heart Association recognizes lack of age-related adequate quality sleep as a risk factor for adverse cardiometabolic profiles and poor outcomes.

Numerous studies have shown substantial evidence that demonstrates how sleeping problems spark cardiovascular chaos , including chest pain (angina), high blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol, heart attack, heart failure, heart palpitations, stroke, unexplained chest pain, diabetes, obesity and more. Sleep and blood pressure

Your blood pressure drops during healthy, normal sleep and this is referred to as “nocturnal dipping.”

Research published in the World Journal of Cardiology indicated that a dip of 10 to 20 percent is considered normal .

“Blunted or absent dips” of less than 10 percent have been considered an adverse cardiovascular event. Those in excess of 20 percent are known as “exaggerated or extreme dipping.”

A study published in the journal Hypertension Research indicated that extreme dippers have a higher occurrence of deep white matter lesions, silent cerebral infarctions or stroke and silent myocardial ischemia or heart attack during sleep than normal dippers.

During extreme dipping, nocturnal hypoperfusion (shock) at the brain or heart may occur and lead to organ damage.

This is particularly of concern in older hypertensive patients with impaired cerebral auto-regulation, or the ability to maintain stable blood flow despite changes in blood pressure. Sleep and coronary heart disease

A short sleep duration of less than six hours can likely cause non-fatal cardiovascular events (e.g., angina pectoris or chest pain), myocardial infarction (e.g., a silent heart attack) or sudden cardiac death, as shown in a study published in the Korean Journal of Physiology & Pharmacology . Sleep and obesity

If you’re not getting enough quality sleep, your brain decreases leptin , which tells your brain when you’ve had enough to eat, and increases the production of ghrelin , which stimulates your appetite – leading you to overeat and gain weight.

Being overweight or obese is strongly associated with numerous cardiovascular and cardio-metabolic problems. Sleep and hormonal imbalances

Sleep deprivation or lack of sleep can cause hormonal imbalance and the imbalance of hormones can lead to more sleep deprivation – a vicious cycle . These imbalances can have widespread effects on your body.

For example, with menopause, your estrogen levels drop this decrease in estrogen may cause women to experience troublesome hot flashes, mood changes, night sweats and/or vaginal dryness – which then leads to disrupted sleep events.

Sleep deprivation (when sleep disruption is severe) contributes to elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol and the connection goes both ways.

High cortisol levels in the evening can cause you to lack sleep hours and may also lead to sleep disorders, such as chronic insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea, in which your breathing stops and restarts many times while you sleep.

A sleep doctor explains that cortisol is not the enemy of your sleep because a healthy cortisol rhythm helps to keep your circadian or sleep cycle in check. This means you want higher cortisol levels in the morning to help you wake up and lower levels in the evening to help you fall asleep easily.

Chronic stress is not good news for your sleep because you will have high levels of cortisol at all times and sleep loss can hike your cortisol levels – trapping you in a vicious cycle of more sleep deprivation and more cortisol. (Related: Improve sleep quality to bolster your resilience against anxiety and depression .) Sleep, cortisol and insulin sensitivity

Aside from the hormone cortisol, insulin is an essential hormone that helps your body turn the food you consume into energy and controls your blood sugar.

Cortisol prepares your body for the burst of energy it needs for both “fight and flight” by increasing your blood sugar as an energy source.

During a cortisol-inducing stressful event (as mentioned earlier), you are able to access quick energy but the stress hormone would slow down insulin production so blood sugar won’t be stored so it can’t be used immediately and won’t be able to work as efficiently.

Sleep deprivation also contributes to elevated cortisol levels and if it remains high for an extended period of time, your body can remain in an insulin-resistant state.Over time, you’ll be more susceptible to chronic fatigue, weight gain and diabetes – in addition to other health problems. Keep your heart healthy by developing good sleep hygiene habits Sleep hygiene is a catchall term for habits and behaviors that can influence (or negatively impact) sleep – all the steps you take and daytime behaviors you engage in to help get a good night’s sleep.When your circadian rhythm and your sleep drive line up, your body is ready to sleep.Sleep drive tells you “you need to sleep” based on a build-up of adenosine (a byproduct of cellular metabolism) in the brain. The more active and alert […]

Read more at www.naturalnews.com

Study: Popular sugar substitute erythritol linked to CARDIOVASCULAR ISSUES

Study: Popular sugar substitute erythritol linked to CARDIOVASCULAR ISSUES


Erythritol is often used as a substitute for regular table sugar. However, a study has found that it can cause serious health issues .

The study published in Nature Medicine stated that erythritol is linked to various cardiovascular issues. “Sweeteners, like erythritol, have rapidly increased in popularity in recent years, but there needs to be more in-depth research into their long-term effects ,” said corresponding author Dr. Stanley Hazen, chairman for the Department of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Sciences at the Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute.

Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic studied over 4,000 people in Europe and the United States to “look for new pathways that contribute to cardiac disease risk.”

Different compounds in patients’ blood samples were measured to see whether or not they predicted the future risk of heart attack, stroke or death.

Once the compounds’ structure was examined, erythritol was found to be at the very top of the list. Researchers noted that people with high blood levels of erythritol had an elevated risk for heart attack or stroke.

The researchers proceeded to conduct mechanistic studies by giving erythritol to animals and found that they developed thrombotic events like a heart attack or a stroke. There’s a clot in the vessel that feeds the heart or the brain. They also found that adding erythritol to blood increases the likelihood of clotting.

Blood clotting normally occurs when there’s damage to a blood vessel. Platelets immediately adhere to the cut edges of the blood vessel and release chemicals to attract even more platelets. One of the biggest problems that cardiologists face in cardiovascular disease is abnormal clotting.

If the clotting becomes obstructive to the heart , doctors call it a heart attack or if it’s an obstruction in the blood vessels that go into the brain, doctors call it a stroke. The authors noted the importance of follow-up studies to confirm their findings in the general population because their clinical observation studies “demonstrated association and not causation.”

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that is about 70 percent as sweet as sugar and is found naturally in some fruits , like grapes, peaches, pears and watermelon. It is also found in some mushrooms. (Related: What is the difference between stevia, Truvia and PureVia ?)

The sugar alcohol erythritol can be produced commercially by food scientists via fermentation by yeast or produced inside yeast-like fungi via the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP), according to a study from Nutrients . That said, erythritol is also found in fermented foods, like beer, cheese, sake, soy sauce and wine. Limitations of the study

The study was primarily done with those who have cardiac risks, cardiovascular problems, those who have been treated, as well as those who have diabetes.

In untargeted metabolomics studies (large-scale studies of small molecules or metabolites within cells, biofluids, tissues or organisms), circulating levels of multiple polyol sweeteners, especially erythritol, were associated with a three-year incident risk for major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE), which may include nonfatal myocardial infarction or stroke or even death.

The researchers also found that erythritol may make it easier for blood clots to form but some health experts pointed out that the data only came from studies done in mice and a small cohort of eight healthy humans.

In the Cleveland Clinic study, 30 grams was enough to make blood levels of erythritol go up a thousandfold and it remained elevated above the threshold – necessary to trigger heightened clotting risk for the following two to three days.

These weren’t the only concerns health experts and specialists had about the study.

“The association between blood erythritol levels and heart disease risk may be due to participants incorporating more sugar substitutes in their diets to lower their health risks and without a comprehensive examination of dietary patterns – both before and after disease development – it is difficult to know whether there is some reverse causation,” explained dietitian Dr Maya Vadivello, an associate professor in nutrition and food sciences at the University of Rhode Island who was not affiliated with the study.

Head over to Sweeteners.news for more stories about erythritol and other sugar substitutes.

Watch Tim Pool of “Timcast” discussing an article by People magazine about erythritol causing blood clots and heart attacks below. People Magazine Blames Artificial Sweetener as Culprit for Blood Clots and Heart Attacks – Timcast

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More CLOT SHOT COVER STORIES run by fake news CNN blaming erythritol for sudden deaths by heart attack and stroke .

Erythritol: A natural, low-calorie alternative to refined sugar .

On keto diet? Satisfy that sweet tooth with these keto-approved sweeteners .

The truth about sugar alcohols: They are neither sugar nor alcohol, and they can destroy your health . Keto dessert recipe: This delicious low-carb cheesecake will satisfy your sweet tooth . Sources include: ChildrensHealthDefense.org Nature.com Newsroom.ClevelandClinic.org SagePub.com MDPI.com VeryWellHealth.com Brighteon.com

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What happens if neurotechnology learns to read our minds?

What happens if neurotechnology learns to read our minds?

Credit: CC0 Public Domain Advancements in neurotechnology could be at a turning point, but the new technology threatens to breach even the privacy of our brains. Looking at a recent case on this issue in the Supreme Court in Chile, Sydney Law School research addresses the need for Australia to protect our human rights and to reconsider many areas of law.

Neurotech law expert Dr. Allan McCay from the Sydney Law School said, “we are witnessing a time where neurotechnology is already starting to address neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy, and it may start to become a useful response to other conditions including stroke, dementia, or even various forms of mental illness.”

“But while the advances could tackle these conditions and perhaps change the way live and work, more focus is needed on the question of how the law should protect the integrity of our brain and minds, and there should also be more consideration of the broader legal implications of this emerging technology.”

The Law Society of England and Wales recently published Dr. McCay’s report, ” Neurotechnology, law and the legal profession: Recent developments ,” where he argues that while the potential of neuroscience to improve lives is enormous, the level of intrusion needed to realize these benefits is profound.

Dr. McCay said there needs to be more discussion about what happens as these capabilities move from medicine into a less regulated commercial world.

“An important question is how well-placed Australian law is to deal with challenges of technologies that monitor and/or influence the brain.” Protecting our brains

“Australia needs to consider what kind of response is needed here given that other countries’ governments have already moved to address such issues,” said Dr. McCay.

“In August this year, the Chilean Supreme Court handed down a historic judgment with respect to neurotechnology and human rights , which addressed the issue of the protection of brain data, drawing on their recently upgraded constitution.”

In 2021, Chile brought about the world’s first neurotech-inspired constitutional change and this modification inserted the following words into section 19 of the constitution:

Scientific and technological development will be at the service of people and will be carried out with respect for life and physical and mental integrity. The law will regulate the requirements, conditions and restrictions for its use in people, having to protect especially the brain activity, as well as the information coming from it.

The change was a milestone in the protection of neurodata (data derived from the brain or nervous system ) and has set a precedent, with other countries now also looking at constitutional change.

The Supreme Court’s decision was in relation to a product (marketed as Insight) which monitors the brainwaves of users. The device might be used to monitor cognitive performance including levels of attentiveness or stress or used to control devices.

Drawing on the 2021 constitutional change, the court ordered Emotiv, the company (which began in Australia) that produced the product to remove the appellant’s brain data from their portals and “The Cloud.”

The appellant, Guido Girardi, a former Chilean senator, was a driving force behind the 2021 constitutional change and strongly advocates for “neurorights.” Human Rights and neurotech

Dr. McCay says the Australian Human Rights Commission is now actively considering what Australia and the international community might do. Both the Human Rights Commissioner and the President of the Human Rights Commission have spoken at Australian events with a neurotechnology focus, and the Commission recently made a submission to the UN concerning neurotechnology and human rights.

“But it seems the consideration of Australia’s response to neurotechnology needs to expand,” said Dr. McCay.

“These devices might not just extract information but act upon our brains and nervous systems to influence them.

“Neurotechnology will challenge a variety of areas of law. This will require Law Reform Commissions in Australia look at the emerging challenges, and it also means that various regulators such as the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner should consider the technology’s implications.

“However, in addressing the legal issues, we must avoid a regulatory environment that stops the development of beneficial therapeutic neurotechnology—this technology must be supported rather than impeded.

“These matters will require political leadership. While in Australia, artificial intelligence is currently, at least to some extent, on the political agenda, the more specific issues relating to humans developing a much closer connection or even merging with technology are entirely absent from Australian political discourse.

“That now needs to change. It is critical that we give our full attention to laws that protect the privacy and integrity of our brains and consider the many other ways in which neurotechnology will impact upon the law.”

He adds that the Chilean developments are particularly significant for Australia, as there has been a recent increased commercial interest in neurotechnology.

“The level of investment alone suggests the time is right for Australia to further consider a response to neurotechnology,” said Dr. McCay.

Dr. McCay analyzes the significance of the case in more detail in this article in Law Society of NSW .

More information: Neurotechnology, law and the legal profession. www.lawsociety.org.uk/topics/r … -the-practice-of-law

Provided by University of Sydney

Read more at techxplore.com

Brain Power Renewed: A Biomarker’s Predictive Magic on Neuron Regeneration

Brain Power Renewed: A Biomarker’s Predictive Magic on Neuron Regeneration

UC San Diego researchers discover a “molecular fingerprint” using single-cell RNA sequencing that predicts if neurons will regenerate after injury, offering new insights into understanding and enhancing neuronal regeneration. Findings could help scientists develop regenerative therapies for spinal cord injuries and other neurological conditions.

Neurons, the main cells that make up our brain and spinal cord, are among the slowest cells to regenerate after an injury, and many neurons fail to regenerate entirely. While scientists have made progress in understanding neuronal regeneration, it remains unknown why some neurons regenerate and others do not.

Using single-cell RNA sequencing, a method that determines which genes are activated in individual cells, researchers from University of California San Diego School of Medicine have identified a new biomarker that can be used to predict whether or not neurons will regenerate after an injury. Testing their discovery in mice, they found that the biomarker was consistently reliable in neurons across the nervous system and at different developmental stages. The study was published on October 16, 2023, in the journal Neuron . The Power of Single-Cell Sequencing

“Single-cell sequencing technology is helping us look at the biology of neurons in much more detail than has ever been possible, and this study really demonstrates that capability,” said senior author Binhai Zheng, PhD, professor in the Department of Neurosciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “What we’ve discovered here could be just the beginning of a new generation of sophisticated biomarkers based on single-cell data.”

The researchers focused on neurons of the corticospinal tract, a critical part of the central nervous system that helps control movement. After injury, these neurons are among the least likely to regenerate axons—the long, thin structures that neurons use to communicate with one another. This is why injuries to the brain and spinal cord are so devastating.

Neurons, shown here in red and yellow, are some of the slowest cells to regenerate after injury. In this section of a mouse brain, yellow neurons are regenerating while red neurons are non-regenerating. Credit: UC San Diego Health Sciences

“If you get an injury in your arm or your leg, those nerves can regenerate and it’s often possible to make a full functional recovery, but this isn’t the case for the central nervous system,” said first author Hugo Kim, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow in the Zheng lab. “It’s extremely difficult to recover from most brain and spinal cord injuries because those cells have very limited regenerative capacity. Once they’re gone, they’re gone.” Identifying the Biomarker

The researchers used single-cell RNA sequencing to analyze gene expression in neurons from mice with spinal cord injuries. They encouraged these neurons to regenerate using established molecular techniques, but ultimately, this only worked for a portion of the cells. This experimental setup allowed the researchers to compare sequencing data from regenerating and non-regenerating neurons.

Further, by focusing on a relatively small number of cells — just over 300 — the researchers were able to look extremely closely at each individual cell.

“Just like how every person is different, every cell has its own unique biology,” said Zheng. “Exploring minute differences between cells can tell us a lot about how those cells work.”

Hugo Kim, PhD (left) designed and executed the single-cell RNA sequencing experiments under the supervision of Binhai Zheng, PhD (right). Credit: UC San Diego Health Sciences

Using a computer algorithm to analyze their sequencing data, the researchers identified a unique pattern of gene expression that can predict whether or not an individual neuron will ultimately regenerate after an injury. The pattern also included some genes that had never been previously implicated in neuronal regeneration.

“It’s like a molecular fingerprint for regenerating neurons,” added Zheng. Validating the Regeneration Classifier

To validate their findings, the researchers tested this molecular fingerprint, which they named the Regeneration Classifier, on 26 published single-cell RNA sequencing datasets. These datasets included neurons from various parts of the nervous system and at different developmental stages.

The team found that with few exceptions, the Regeneration Classifier successfully predicted the regeneration potential of individual neurons and was able to reproduce known trends from previous research, such as a sharp decrease in neuronal regeneration just after birth.

“Validating the results against many sets of data from completely different lines of research tells us that we’ve uncovered something fundamental about the underlying biology of neuronal regeneration,” said Zheng. “We need to do more work to refine our approach, but I think we’ve come across a pattern that could be universal to all regenerating neurons.”

While the results in mice are promising, the researchers caution that at present, the Regeneration Classifier is a tool to help neuroscience researchers in the lab rather than a diagnostic test for patients in the clinic.

“There are still a lot of barriers to using single-cell sequencing in clinical contexts, such as high cost, difficulty analyzing large amounts of data and, most importantly, accessibility to tissues of interest,” said Zheng. “For now, we’re interested in exploring how we can use the Regeneration Classifier in preclinical contexts to predict the effectiveness of new regenerative therapies and help move those treatments closer to clinical trials.”

Reference: “Deep scRNA sequencing reveals a broadly applicable Regeneration Classifier and implicates antioxidant response in corticospinal axon regeneration” by Hugo J. Kim, Junmi M. Saikia, Katlyn Marie A. Monte, Eunmi Ha, Daniel Romaus-Sanjurjo, Joshua J. Sanchez, Andrea X. Moore, Marc Hernaiz-Llorens, Carmine L. Chavez-Martinez, Chimuanya K. Agba, Haoyue Li, Joseph Zhang, Daniel T. Lusk, Kayla M. Cervantes and Binhai Zheng, 16 October 2023, Neuron .
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2023.09.019

Co-authors of the study include: Junmi M. Saikia, Katlyn Marie A. Monte, Eunmi Ha, Daniel Romaus-Sanjurjo, Joshua J. Sanchez, Andrea X. Moore, Marc Hernaiz-Llorens, Carmine L. Chavez-Martinez, Chimuanya K. Agba, Haoyue Li, Joseph Zhang, Daniel T. Lusk and Kayla M. Cervantes, all at UC San Diego.

Read more at scitechdaily.com

Converting brain immune cells into neurons aids post-stroke recovery

Converting brain immune cells into neurons aids post-stroke recovery

Researchers have restored function in stroke-affected mice by converting brain immune cells to neuronsDepositphotos Researchers have converted brain immune cells into neurons, replacing damaged ones and restoring function in stroke-affected mice. The next step is to see if the same results can be achieved using human brain cells, opening the door to a potential treatment for stroke.

After a stroke or other cerebrovascular disease has deprived the brain of blood flow, neurons are either damaged or die, causing characteristic physical and mental deficits. Now, researchers from Kyushu University in Japan have converted microglia, the brain’s primary immune cells, into neurons to restore motor function in stroke-affected mice.

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“When we get a cut or break a bone, our skin and bone cells can replicate to heal our body,” said Kinichi Nakashima, a corresponding author of the study. “But the neurons in our brain cannot easily regenerate, so the damage is often permanent. We therefore need to find new ways to place lost neurons.”

The researchers knew from their previous research that microglia could be induced to develop into neurons in the brains of healthy mice. Following a stroke, microglia, responsible for removing damaged or dead brain cells, move towards the injury site and replicate quickly.

“Microglia are abundant and exactly in the place we need them, so they are an ideal target for conversion,” said Takashi Irie, the study’s lead author.

The researchers induced a stroke in mice by temporarily blocking the right middle cerebral artery, a major blood vessel in the brain commonly associated with stroke in humans. After a week, the mice were observed to have difficulties in motor function and a marked loss of neurons in the striatum, a region of the brain involved in decision-making, action planning and motor control.

They used a lentivirus – a subclass of retrovirus used as a viral vector – to insert DNA into microglial cells at the site of the stroke injury. The DNA contained instructions for producing NeuroD1, a protein that induces neuronal conversion. Over subsequent weeks, the cells developed into neurons. Production of the protein NeuroD1 in microglial cells induces their development into neurons (red), reducing areas of neuron loss (dark patches) At three weeks post-insertion of DNA, the mice showed improved motor function. By eight weeks, the newly induced neurons had successfully integrated into the brain’s circuitry. When the researchers removed the new neurons, motor function improvements were lost, confirming that the new neurons directly contributed to the mice’s recovery.

“These results are very promising,” Nakashima said. “The next step is to test whether NeuroD1 is also effective at converting human microglia into neurons and confirm that our method of inserting genes into the microglial cells is safe.”

Because the treatment was administered to the mice in the acute phase after stroke when microglia have migrated to the injury site, the researchers next plan to see if they can produce recovery in mice at a later stage.

Read more at newatlas.com

Brain cell ‘atlas’ could boost research on neuropsychiatric conditions: Are we there yet?

In a collaborative study led by the University of California San Diego, scientists have examined over 1 million human brain cells to craft intricate maps of gene regulators specific to different brain cell types.

This research not only demonstrates the intricate links between distinct cell categories and prevalent neuropsychiatric disorders but also pioneers the use of artificial intelligence to predict the impact of high-risk gene variations within these cells, potentially unlocking insights into disease development.

This study forms a vital part of the National Institute of Health’s transformative BRAIN Initiative, initiated in 2014, which seeks to revolutionise our understanding of the mammalian brain by advancing innovative neurotechnologies for classifying various neural cell types.

A new study, published in a special edition of Science , highlights the connections between particular cell types and various prevalent neuropsychiatric conditions.

In the human brain, each cell possesses an identical DNA sequence, but various cell types utilise distinct genes in varying quantities.

This diversity results in the creation of numerous brain cell types and adds to the intricacy of neural networks.

Gaining insights into the molecular distinctions among these cell types is crucial for comprehending brain functionality and devising innovative approaches to address neuropsychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia , bipolar disorder , Alzheimer’s disease , and major depression . Human brain not uniform, an intricate system

The human brain is not uniform in nature. It comprises an incredibly intricate system of neurons and non-neuronal cells, each with distinct roles.

Creating a comprehensive map of these diverse brain cell types and deciphering their collaborative functions will ultimately lead to the identification of novel treatments that can specifically target relevant cell types associated with particular diseases.

Four experts, not involved in this research, spoke to Medical News Today about its findings.

Dr. Ryan S. Sultan is an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute. He noted that the current research “explores an important topic in neuroscience and genetics.”

Dr. Sultan explained that “the study is extensive, encompassing an analysis of chromatin accessibility in 1.1 million cells from various brain regions.”

The researchers pinpointed 107 unique subcategories of brain cells and established connections between aspects of their molecular characteristics and various neuropsychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, and major depression.

Subsequently, the researchers constructed machine learning models aimed at forecasting how specific DNA sequence variations can impact gene regulation and contribute to the development of diseases.

Although these recent findings provide significant insights into the human brain and its disorders, scientists are still in the process of comprehensively mapping the brain.

Dr. James Giordano , the Pellegrino Center professor of neurology and biochemistry at Georgetown University Medical Center, commented on the Science special issue, published on October 13, 2023, which covers research based on The BRAIN Initiative.

He said that “these studies, published in a series of papers in notable medical journals, present the first comprehensive map of molecular mechanisms inherent to specific cell types in discrete areas of the human brain.” “Taken together, these studies, afford a ‘molecular atlas’ of nodes of cells that are genotypically correlated to the expression of certain structural and functional phenotypes that may be involved in a number of neuropsychiatric conditions.”

– Dr. James Giordano Dr. Consuelo Walss-Bass , professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of the Psychiatric Genetics program at UTHealth Houston, noted that “research of [the] human brain has been historically difficult because of limited ability to obtain human brain samples.”

“However, recently, advances in genomic technologies, coupled with increased availability of postmortem brain tissue, have facilitated the generation of multi-level omics data, including epigenomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, in [the] human brain,” she added. “This is a seminal example of the advances in technology, describing how it is now possible to identify, at the single cell level, DNA regions that are involved in regulating how genes are expressed (genes being ‘turned on or off’). Up till now, there was a lack of technology that allowed for this level of knowledge to be resolved at the individual cell level.”

– Dr. Consuelo Walss-Bass Future is promising, but more research needed

However, Dr. Stefan Ivantu , consultant psychiatrist at ADHD Specialist, said that he felt researchers still had a long way to go until compiling a true “brain cell Atlas.”

“[I]n my opinion,” he told us, “analyzing 1 million cells is considered a small sample given the complexity of the human brain. Very few [people] are aware that the human brain has on average 86 billion cells that are interacting with each other constantly.”

“What makes it even more difficult are the interactions between the cells, which are far more complex,” he added. “However, with more powerful imagistic and AI tool, we may be able to understand the patterns related to specific conditions.”

In Dr. Ivantu’s view, “[a] more promising field is quantum computing, which this linked with the recent AI advances may be more effective in understanding the human brain.”

Nevertheless, he noted that “[i]t is extremely encouraging that researchers are using more technology for the next steps in understanding the human brain, and I believe this is the right approach.”

Dr. Walss-Bass pointed out that the researchers “have identified areas of the genome in individual brain cells that determine whether a gene will become expressed, that is, turned into RNA and then protein, to perform specific functions.”“From this, the authors were then able to correlate genes that had been previously associated with schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders to areas in the DNA where the expression of these genes is being regulated,” she explained. “Understanding how gene expression is regulated in specific cell types in the brain is a significant advancement that will help to shed light shed light on the neurobiological mechanisms of psychiatric disorders and could lead to development of new therapies to treat these disorders.”– Dr. Consuelo Walss-Bass Dr. Sultan explained that this “research has significant implications for patients and the public.” “It advances our understanding […]

Read more at www.medicalnewstoday.com

White Matter Wonders: Re-imagining the Brain’s Silent Majority

Summary: Historically, scientific research has largely focused on the gray matter of the brain, leaving the equally important white matter understudied. However, a recent groundbreaking study has used fMRI to detect significant brain activity in white matter.

When subjects performed tasks, researchers observed increased BOLD signals throughout the white matter.

This discovery challenges conventional beliefs about the brain’s activity and emphasizes the potential importance of white matter in understanding various brain disorders.

Key Facts:

> The Vanderbilt team, led by John Gore, Ph.D., utilized fMRI to identify BOLD signals, indicative of brain activity, in the white matter—previously a little-researched area.

When subjects performed tasks during the study, there was a noticeable increase in BOLD signals in the white matter across the entire brain.

Despite the current lack of full understanding about these white matter signals, they’re believed to hold valuable insights, especially since many brain disorders, including epilepsy and multiple sclerosis, disrupt the brain’s “connectivity.”

Source: Vanderbilt University

The human brain is made up of two kinds of matter: the nerve cell bodies (gray matter), which process sensation, control voluntary movement, and enable speech, learning and cognition, and the axons (white matter), which connect cells to each other and project to the rest of the body.

Historically, scientists have concentrated on the gray matter of the cortex, figuring that’s where the action is, while ignoring white matter, even though it makes up half the brain. Researchers at Vanderbilt University are out to change that.

For several years, John Gore, Ph.D., director of the Vanderbilt University Institute of Imaging Science, and his colleagues have used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to detect blood oxygenation-level dependent (BOLD) signals, a key marker of brain activity, in white matter.

In their latest paper, published Oct. 12 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , the researchers report that when people who are having their brains scanned by fMRI perform a task, like wiggling their fingers, BOLD signals increase in white matter throughout the brain.

“We don’t know what this means,” said the paper’s first author, Kurt Schilling, Ph.D., research assistant professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences at VUMC. “We just know that something is happening. There truly is a powerful signal in the white matter.”

It is important to pursue this because disorders as diverse as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis disrupt the “connectivity” of the brain, Schilling said. This suggests that something is going on in white matter.

To find out, the researchers will continue to study changes in white matter signals they’ve previously detected in schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders. Through animal studies and tissue analysis, they also hope to determine the biological basis for these changes.

In gray matter, BOLD signals reflect a rise in blood flow (and oxygen) in response to increased nerve cell activity.

Perhaps the axons, or the glial cells that maintain the protective myelin sheath around them, also use more oxygen when the brain is “working.” Or perhaps these signals are somehow related to what’s going on in the gray matter.

But even if nothing biological is going on in white matter, “there’s still something happening here,” Schilling said. “The signal is changing. It’s changing differently in different white matter pathways and it’s in all white matter pathways, which is a unique finding.”

One reason that white matter signals have been understudied is that they have lower energy than gray matter signals, and thus are more difficult to distinguish from the brain’s background “noise.”

The VUMC researchers boosted the signal-to-noise ratio by having the person whose brain was being scanned repeat a visual, verbal or motor task many times to establish a trend and by averaging the signal over many different white matter fiber pathways.

“For 25 or 30 years, we’ve neglected the other half of the brain,” Schilling said. Some researchers not only have ignored white matter signals but have removed them from their reports of brain function.

The Vanderbilt findings suggest that many fMRI studies thus “may not only underestimate the true extent of brain activation, but also … may miss crucial information from the MRI signal,” the researchers concluded. About this neuroscience research news

Author: Bill Snyder
Source: Vanderbilt University
Contact: Bill Snyder – Vanderbilt University
Image: The image is credited to Neuroscience News

Original Research: Closed access.
“ Whole-brain, gray, and white matter time-locked functional signal changes with simple tasks and model-free analysis ” by Kurt G. Schilling et al. PNAS Abstract Whole-brain, gray, and white matter time-locked functional signal changes with simple tasks and model-free analysis Recent studies have revealed the production of time-locked blood oxygenation level–dependent (BOLD) functional MRI (fMRI) signals throughout the entire brain in response to tasks, challenging the existence of sparse and localized brain functions and highlighting the pervasiveness of potential false negative fMRI findings.“Whole-brain” actually refers to gray matter, the only tissue traditionally studied with fMRI. However, several reports have demonstrated reliable detection of BOLD signals in white matter, which have previously been largely ignored.Using simple tasks and analyses, we demonstrate BOLD signal changes across the whole brain, in both white and gray matters, in similar manner to previous reports of whole brain studies.We investigated whether white matter displays time-locked BOLD signals across multiple structural pathways in response to a stimulus in a similar manner to the cortex. We find that both white and gray matter show time-locked activations across the whole brain, with a majority of both tissue types showing statistically significant signal changes for all task stimuli investigated.We observed a wide range of signal responses to tasks, with different regions showing different BOLD signal changes to the same task. Moreover, we find that each region may display different BOLD responses to different stimuli.Overall, we present compelling evidence that, just like all gray matter, essentially all white matter in the brain shows time-locked BOLD signal changes in response to multiple stimuli, challenging the idea of sparse functional localization and the prevailing wisdom of treating white matter BOLD signals as artifacts to be removed.

Read more at neurosciencenews.com

Study: Older adults who regularly use the internet have LESS DEMENTIA RISK than non-regular users

Study: Older adults who regularly use the internet have LESS DEMENTIA RISK than non-regular users

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Regular internet usage is often painted as a negative, but research has found a positive to the practice – especially in the case of older users .

A longitudinal study of a large group of older adults showed that regular internet users had approximately half the risk of dementia compared to their same-age peers who did not use the internet regularly. Participants using the internet between six minutes and two hours per day had the lowest risk of dementia, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society .

The authors said public discussions about internet use often revolve around problematic internet use – particularly among children and adolescents. But they noticed that this difference remained even after controlling for education, ethnicity, sex, generation and signs of cognitive decline at the start of the study. (Related: Too much internet use can lead to depression in young people .)

Studies often link large amounts of time spent on the internet with various adverse conditions . However, the internet also forms the backbone of modern economy and entertainment – providing lots of cognitively engaging content that is relatively easy to access.

Additionally, scientists have previously shown that online engagement can make individuals more resilient against brain decay or physiological damage to the brain that develops as people age.

This can, in turn, help older adults compensate for brain aging and reduce the risk of dementia. In this way, internet use can help extend the cognitively healthy lifespan.

Indeed, previous studies have shown that internet users tend to have better overall cognitive performance , verbal reasoning and memory than non-users.

However, most of these studies did not track changes over time or tracked them for very short periods. Thus, it could not be determined whether internet use helps maintain cognitive functioning or whether individuals with better cognitive functioning were more likely to use the internet.

In this paper, corresponding study author Dr. Virginia Chang and her colleagues wanted to examine how the risk of developing dementia is associated with whether adults regularly use the internet.

They were also interested in how this association changes over time and how the total period of internet use in late adulthood is associated with the risk of dementia.

Finally, they wanted to see if there might be an adverse effect of excessive internet use by examining the association between the risk of dementia and the daily number of hours spent on the internet. How the study was done

The researchers followed more than 18,000 dementia-free adults and analyzed data from The Health and Retirement Study – an ongoing longitudinal survey of a nationally representative sample of U.S. older-age adults aged 50 and over.

All 18,154 participants were born before 1966 and were aged between 50 and 65 years at the start of the analysis period. The median follow-up period of participants whose data were analyzed in this study was eight years, but it went up to 17 years with some.

Data analyses were conducted from September 2021 to November 2022. The researchers examined the relationship between internet usage and education, race-ethnicity, sex and generation.

Moreover, they examined whether the risk of dementia varied by the cumulative period of internet usage to see if starting or continuing usage in old age modulated subsequent risk.

The study interviewed participants every second year since 2002 about their internet usage, including frequency, duration and purpose of internet use.

Assessments of dementia were also conducted every second year through the modified Telephone Interview for Cognitive Status. Study authors calculated how long participants survived without dementia. They also used various demographic data about participants in their analysis. What the study showed

Over the years, internet usage was monitored as was cognitive decline. Data statistics showed the following: 65 percent of participants were regular internet users and 35 percent were non-regular users

21 percent changed their internet use habits during the study period while 53 percent did not change them

26 percent dropped out

Eight percent died during the follow-up period or experienced another event and were excluded from further analysis

Five percent of participants developed dementia during the study period

Regular internet users had a 1.54 percent chance of developing dementia. This risk was 10.45 percent for non-regular users.

When time until the development of dementia was analyzed, results showed that the risk of dementia of regular internet users was 57 percent lower than the risk non-regular users had of developing dementia.

Findings showed the relationship between dementia risk and daily hours of internet usage was U-shaped.Adults using the internet between six minutes and two hours per day were found to have the lowest risk of dementia. This risk was much higher in adults who did not use the internet at all but also increased gradually with more daily internet use beyond two hours.The study authors said: “Our findings show evidence of a digital divide in the cognitive health of older-age adults. Specifically, adults who regularly used the internet experienced approximately half the risk of dementia than adults who did not, adjusting for baseline cognitive function, self-selection into baseline internet usage, self-reported health and a large number of demographic characteristics.”The study had limitations that needed to be taken into account. Notably, the dementia assessment used might not completely agree with clinical diagnoses of dementia.Additionally, the study included only individuals without dementia at the start of the study and excluded individuals who developed dementia early . Results might not have been the same if such individuals, who are part of the general population, were included in the study.Watch this video explaining why the internet must go . LEAKED: The Internet Must GoThis is a modal window.No compatible source was found for this media.This video is from the Puretrauma357 channel on Brighteon.com . More related stories: Violent video games and certain internet use cause aggression and other negative outcomes. Excess weight in teen girls linked to internet, alcohol and lack of sleep. Online safety: How to avoid common internet scams. Sources include: […]

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Study: Compounds in seaweeds show promise in cancer research

Study: Compounds in seaweeds show promise in cancer research


Seaweeds can be used as food and treatment for common ailments. They are used to treat boils, dropsy or edema (swelling caused by fluids trapped in the body), fever, hemorrhoids, lumps, orchitis (inflammation of one or both testicles), scrofula (an infection in the lymph nodes in the neck), urination problems and many more.

Now, studies have shown that seaweeds and certain compounds in them show promise when it comes to treating cancer. One of the studies, which documented how people had been saved by seaweeds , was published in the Journal of Applied Phycology.

Another study published in Marine Drugs described seaweeds as a good source of vitamins (A, B1, B2, B9, B12, C, D, E, and K), essential minerals (calcium, copper, fluoride, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and zinc), dietary fibers and protein.

Moreover, seaweeds have been found to be rich in essential amino acids, polyphenols, polysaccharides, sterols, terpenoids and several other bioactive compounds, which exhibit anticancer, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.

Some of the bioactive compounds that have been attributed to the effective treatment of a multitude of conditions, diseases and disorders in various fields of medicine, particularly cancer research include carotenoids like fucoxanthin and zeaxanthin; iodine; phycolloids, including agar, alginate, carrageenan; polyphenols, such as phlorotannins; and polysaccharides, including fucoidan and laminarin.

Seaweeds are a healthy, low-calorie and nutritious food – possessing a low-lipid content, but enriched in polyunsaturated fatty acids. (Related: Supercharge your health with seaweed .) Seaweeds in the oncology arena

Seaweeds are a rich source of bioactive metabolites whose properties exhibit anti-tumoral and anti-metastatic activities (by preventing the adhesion of tumor cells), including inducing tumor cell apoptosis or cell death, against some types of cancer lines without affecting healthy cells negatively.

Here are the compounds in seaweeds that can help treat cancer , according to research. Fucoxanthin (brain cancer)

Researchers in the European Union (EU)-funded project GENIALG (GENetic diversity exploitation for Innovative macro-ALGal biorefinery) found that the compound fucoxanthin , a type of carotenoid pigment found in brown seaweeds, also known as sugar kelp ( Saccharina latissima ) could help treat one of the most common and aggressive forms of malignant brain tumor.

The study found that fucoxanthin inhibits cancer cell groups by itself but also improves the effectiveness of certain anti-proliferative pharmaceutical medicines used in cancer treatment.

“The compound could provide an effective treatment against glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the most common and aggressive form of malignant brain tumor, with an annual incidence of three to four cases per 100,000 people in Europe,” said Dr. David Baily, director of IOTA Pharmaceuticals.

With an average survival rate of 12 months after diagnosis, Baily added that GBM remains an incurable disease – even with the improvement of knowledge of its genetic causes. He attributed part of the poor prognosis to tumor heterogeneity – different parts of the tumor have different characteristics, so it tends to respond differently to treatment.

As a result, a single treatment may kill some of the cancerous cells, while others continue to grow. Therefore, it is important to find and develop combination therapies that can tackle all parts of the tumor, explained Baily. Fucoidan (breast cancer)

A study published in the Molecules demonstrated how the compound fucoidan exhibits antioxidant, antiviral, immune-modulatory and anticancer or cancer-preventive activity against a wide range of malignancies. (Related: Seaweed extract outperforms chemo drug in shrinking breast tumors – but without the toxic side effects .)

Fucoidan prompts cell cycle arrest and apoptosis, blocks metastasis and angiogenesis as well and modulates physiological signaling molecules – thereby inhibiting tumorigenesis or the gain of malignant properties in normal healthy cells, following a step-by-step progression that eventually leads to metastasis or the spread of cancer to other parts of the body.

Fucoidan exists mainly in the cell wall matrix of various species of brown seaweed, such as bladderwrack, kombu, limunoii, mozuko and wakame. (Related: Wakame: An iodine-rich seaweed with impressive fat-burning properties .)

Researchers also found various forms of fucoidan in some marine invertebrates, such as sea cucumbers and sea urchins. Carotenoids (colorectal cancer)

In a study of 893 adults who were tested having colorectal endoscopy, researchers from Japan’s Red Cross Kyoto Daiichi Hospital reported that zeaxanthin and other seaweed carotenoids , such as fucoxanthin and its deacetylated metabolite fucoxanthinol, reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer among Japanese adults.

Researchers noted that men who had higher circulating levels of zeaxanthin had over 30 percent fewer incidence of colorectal cancer and about 50 percent fewer incidence of polyps than those who had lower circulating levels of zeaxanthin. Phenolic compounds bromophenols and phlorotannins and fucoxanthin (gastric cancer and several others)

Research from the Science University of Tokyo found that seaweed extracts inhibit five different human cancer lines , including gastric cancer.

After testing extracts from 16 different species from the Danish coastlines for free radical scavenging, a study from Denmark’s National Food Institute and the Technical University of Denmark found that their phenolic content and sulfated polysaccharide content enabled them to produce significant antioxidant and radical scavenging effects . The results of this study were published in the journal Food Chemistry.

This has been confirmed by researchers from the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at the University of Hawaii at Hilo , who published their findings in Scientific Reports. In the course of studying the anti-cancer effects of seaweeds, they found that phenolic compounds – such as bromophenols and phlorotannins , along with their fucoxanthin content – contribute to an antioxidant effect that prevents different cancer forms.

Visit Anticancer.news for more stories about anticancer food.

Watch this video about the benefits of bladderwrack seaweed . Bladderwrack Seaweed Benefits

This is a modal window.No compatible source was found for this media.This video is from the Holistic Herbalist channel on Brighteon.com . More related stories: Seaweed found to accelerate excretion of dioxins from the body . Sodium alginate from seaweed could help with weight loss . Things to know about seaweed . Sources include: NaturalHealth365.com Springer.com MDPI.com 1 Cordis.Europa.eu MDPI.com 2 PlantMedicine.org MDPI.com 3 ScienceDirect.com 1 ScienceDirect.com […]

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Converting brain immune cells into neurons helps mice recover after stroke

Researchers at Kyushu University have discovered that turning brain immune cells into neurons successfully restores brain function after stroke-like injury in mice. These findings, published on October 10 in PNAS, suggest that replenishing neurons from immune cells could be a promising avenue for treating stroke in humans.

Stroke, and other cerebrovascular diseases, occur when blood flow to the brain is affected, causing damage to neurons. Recovery is often poor, with patients suffering from severe physical disabilities and cognitive problems. Worldwide, it’s one of the most common causes for needing long-term care.

“When we get a cut or break a bone, our skin and bone cells can replicate to heal our body. But the neurons in our brain cannot easily regenerate, so the damage is often permanent,” says Professor Kinichi Nakashima, from Kyushu University’s Graduate School of Medical Sciences. “We therefore need to find new ways to replace lost neurons.”

One possible strategy is to convert other cells in the brain into neurons. Here, the researchers focused on microglia, the main immune cells in the central nervous system. Microglia are tasked with removing damaged or dead cells in the brain, so after a stroke, they move towards the site of injury and replicate quickly.

“Microglia are abundant and exactly in the place we need them, so they are an ideal target for conversion,” says first author, Dr. Takashi Irie from Kyushu University Hospital.

In prior research, the team demonstrated that they could induce microglia to develop into neurons in the brains of healthy mice. Now, Dr. Irie and Professor Nakashima, along with Lecturer Taito Matsuda and Professor Noriko Isobe from Kyushu University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, showed that this strategy of replacing neurons also works in injured brains and contributes to brain recovery.

To conduct the study, the researchers caused a stroke-like injury in mice by temporarily blocking the right middle cerebral artery — a major blood vessel in the brain that is commonly associated with stroke in humans. A week later, the researchers examined the mice and found that they had difficulties in motor function and had a marked loss of neurons in a brain region known as the striatum. This part of the brain is involved in decision making, action planning and motor coordination.

The researchers then used a lentivirus to insert DNA into microglial cells at the site of the injury. The DNA held instructions for producing NeuroD1, a protein that induces neuronal conversion. Over the subsequent weeks, the infected cells began developing into neurons and the areas of the brain with neuron loss decreased. By eight weeks, the new induced neurons had successfully integrated into the brain’s circuits.

At only three weeks post-infection, the mice showed improved motor function in behavioral tests. These improvements were lost when the researchers removed the new induced neurons, providing strong evidence that the newly converted neurons directly contributed to recovery.

“These results are very promising. The next step is to test whether NeuroD1 is also effective at converting human microglia into neurons and confirm that our method of inserting genes into the microglial cells is safe,” says Professor Nakashima.

Furthermore, the treatment was conducted in mice in the acute phase after stroke, when microglia were migrating to and replicating at the site of injury. Therefore, the researchers also plan to see if recovery is also possible in mice at a later, chronic phase.

Read more at www.sciencedaily.com

Turning brain immune cells into neurons restores brain function after stroke-like injury in mice

Turning brain immune cells into neurons restores brain function after stroke-like injury in mice

Researchers at Kyushu University have discovered that turning brain immune cells into neurons successfully restores brain function after stroke-like injury in mice. These findings, published on October 10 in PNAS, suggest that replenishing neurons from immune cells could be a promising avenue for treating stroke in humans.

Stroke, and other cerebrovascular diseases, occur when blood flow to the brain is affected, causing damage to neurons. Recovery is often poor, with patients suffering from severe physical disabilities and cognitive problems. Worldwide, it’s one of the most common causes for needing long-term care. When we get a cut or break a bone, our skin and bone cells can replicate to heal our body. But the neurons in our brain cannot easily regenerate, so the damage is often permanent. We therefore need to find new ways to replace lost neurons.” Professor Kinichi Nakashima, from Kyushu University’s Graduate School of Medical Sciences One possible strategy is to convert other cells in the brain into neurons. Here, the researchers focused on microglia, the main immune cells in the central nervous system. Microglia are tasked with removing damaged or dead cells in the brain, so after a stroke, they move towards the site of injury and replicate quickly.

“Microglia are abundant and exactly in the place we need them, so they are an ideal target for conversion,” says first author, Dr. Takashi Irie from Kyushu University Hospital.

In prior research, the team demonstrated that they could induce microglia to develop into neurons in the brains of healthy mice. Now, Dr. Irie and Professor Nakashima, along with Lecturer Taito Matsuda and Professor Noriko Isobe from Kyushu University Graduate School of Medical Sciences, showed that this strategy of replacing neurons also works in injured brains and contributes to brain recovery.

Neuroscience eBook Compilation of the top interviews, articles, and news in the last year. Download the latest edition

To conduct the study, the researchers caused a stroke-like injury in mice by temporarily blocking the right middle cerebral artery – a major blood vessel in the brain that is commonly associated with stroke in humans. A week later, the researchers examined the mice and found that they had difficulties in motor function and had a marked loss of neurons in a brain region known as the striatum. This part of the brain is involved in decision making, action planning and motor coordination.

The researchers then used a lentivirus to insert DNA into microglial cells at the site of the injury. The DNA held instructions for producing NeuroD1, a protein that induces neuronal conversion. Over the subsequent weeks, the infected cells began developing into neurons and the areas of the brain with neuron loss decreased. By eight weeks, the new induced neurons had successfully integrated into the brain’s circuits.

At only three weeks post-infection, the mice showed improved motor function in behavioral tests. These improvements were lost when the researchers removed the new induced neurons, providing strong evidence that the newly converted neurons directly contributed to recovery.

“These results are very promising. The next step is to test whether NeuroD1 is also effective at converting human microglia into neurons and confirm that our method of inserting genes into the microglial cells is safe,” says Professor Nakashima.

Furthermore, the treatment was conducted in mice in the acute phase after stroke, when microglia were migrating to and replicating at the site of injury. Therefore, the researchers also plan to see if recovery is also possible in mice at a later, chronic phase.


Kyushu University

Journal reference:

Irie, T., et al. (2023). Direct neuronal conversion of microglia/macrophages reinstates neurological function after stroke. PNAS . doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2307972120 .

Read more at www.news-medical.net

Decoding Humanity: The 3,000+ Brain Cell Types Revealing Our Secrets

Decoding Humanity: The 3,000+ Brain Cell Types Revealing Our Secrets

Researchers, through a massive collaboration supported by the BRAIN Initiative, unveil detailed studies on human and primate brain cellular structures, identifying over 3,000 distinct brain cells and contributing to the expansive Human Cell Atlas project. You have 3,000+ different kinds of brain cells, and more insights from the largest human brain cell atlases created to date.

Scientists have just unveiled a massive effort to understand our own brains and those of our closest primate relatives.

In a suite of 21 papers published on October 12 in the journals Science (12) , Science Advances (8) , and Science Translational Medicine (1) , a large consortium of researchers shares new knowledge about the cells that make up our brains and the brains of other primates. It’s a huge leap from previously published work, with studies and data that reveal new insights about our nervous systems’ cellular makeup across many regions of the brain and what is distinctive about the human brain.

Watch on

The research consortium is a concerted effort to understand the human brain and its modular, functional nature. It was brought together and is funded by the National Institutes of Health’s Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies ® (BRAIN) Initiative . Hundreds of scientists from around the world worked together to complete a range of studies exploring the cellular makeup of the human brain and those of other primates, and to demonstrate how a transformative new suite of scalable techniques can be used to study the detailed organization of the human brain at unprecedented resolution.

Understanding our brain at the cellular level is key to understanding how our brains function and who we are as a species, as well as more accurately pinpointing the cellular roots of brain diseases and disorders—knowledge that could ultimately lead to better treatments for those diseases.

Scientists at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, a division of the Allen Institute, led five of these studies and made significant contributions to three others, including a study that greatly expands on existing knowledge about the number of types of cells in the adult human brain. Scientists at Karolinska Institute and the Allen Institute studied the genes switched on in individual brain cells, a technique known as single-cell transcriptomics, revealing an astonishing diversity of cell types: we have more than 3,000 different kinds of brain cells.

Sr. Investigator, Ed Lein and Sr. Scientist, Meanhwan Kim observe live brain tissue on a multi-patch rig, while in the electrophysiology lab at the Allen Institute. Credit: Erik Dinnel / Allen Institute

“I view this as a pivotal moment in neuroscience, where new technologies are now allowing us to understand the very detailed cellular organization of the human brain and of other primate brains,” said Ed Lein, Ph.D., Senior Investigator at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, who led several of the newly published studies. “At its core, this body of work is a triumph of molecular biology: Differential gene usage can be used to define cell types, and the tools of genomics could be used to create the first drafts of high-resolution, annotated maps of the cells that make up the entire human brain.”

The studies also tackle a range of important questions such as: How different are individual people’s brains at the cellular level? How different are our brains from those of our closest ape relatives? How many kinds of brain cells do we have? What are the properties of these cells? How do these cells emerge and mature in development?

Building off previous work mapping brain cell types in high resolution in single regions of the human cortex, the outermost shell of the brain, the newly published package expands those studies to dozens up to a hundred regions across the entire brain. Where the single region studies found over 100 different brain cell types, the newly released data shows thousands of different kinds of brain cells across the entire brain. For many parts of the brain, that complexity and variety had never before been described.

These studies are part of the NIH’s BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network, or BICCN, a five-year funding program that was launched in 2017 to create a catalog of brain cell types. This body of work demonstrated the scalability of cutting edge cellular and molecular approaches to tackle the challenges of size and complexity of the human brain, and has set the stage for the next phase of this cell census effort. This next phase, part of which is underway at the Allen Institute, will build much more comprehensive atlases of human and other primate brains through the BRAIN Initiative’s Cell Atlas Network, or BICAN.

“The present suite of studies represents a landmark achievement that continues to build an important bridge toward illuminating the complexity of the human brain at the cellular level,” said Dr. John Ngai, Director of the NIH BRAIN Initiative. “The scientific collaborations forged through BICCN, and continuing in the next phase in BICAN, are propelling the field forward at an exponential pace; the progress – and possibilities – have been simply breathtaking.”

The human studies used postmortem tissue from people who had donated their brains to science, as well as healthy living tissue donated from patients who had undergone brain surgery and donated tissue to research.

The data from the newly released studies will also feed into the Human Cell Atlas , an international effort that is building a comprehensive reference atlas of cells across all organs, tissues, and systems of the human body.

The five Allen Institute-led studies include: An exploration of the variability in brain cell types between individual people . In this study, the scientists looked at brain cells by the levels of the genes they switch on in one region of the cortex, the middle temporal gyrus, across 75 different adult donors. This was one of the first human brain studies to compare a large number of individual people using single-cell techniques. The researchers found that while we all have the same basic cellular parts list, the proportions of certain kinds of cells and the genes switched on in those […]

Read more at scitechdaily.com

5 brain-boosting snacks that are perfect for the workplace

5 brain-boosting snacks that are perfect for the workplace

Morning and after-lunch snacks are important at work because they keep your concentration going during the workday.

“To keep your brain sharp during the workday, it’s important to choose snacks that provide a balance of nutrients, including complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein,” Sarah Heckler, MS, RD, a dietitian with Anne Till Nutrition Group in Raleigh, North Carolina, told FOX Business.

Nutrition experts say to pick these brain-bossing snack ideas over empty calories like candy, another cup of coffee or a sugary carb-laden snack selection.

Check out these five. 1. Greek yogurt

Most offices have a fridge — and this snack choice is an easy way to stay on a healthy track.

“Greek yogurt is high in protein, which can help keep you feel full and provide a steady release of energy,” said Heckler.

She suggested adding some blueberries, strawberries or raspberries for extra flavor and antioxidants, which she noted may improve cognitive function. Nutritionists say these snacks are brain-boosting in the workplace. 2. Nuts and seeds

Almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants, which support brain health, said Heckler.

These types of snacks store well in your desk drawer or handbag — and can also work well for on-the-go jobs. 3. Hummus with veggies

Hummus is a good source of protein and healthy fats, said Heckler.

“Pair hummus with carrot sticks, cucumber slices, or bell pepper strips for a satisfying and nutritious snack,” she said. Hummus can be a good source of protein and healthy fats. 4. Whole grain crackers and cheese

Taking a snack break can recharge your afternoon, especially when your snack offers a blend of nutrition benefits.

“Whole grain crackers provide complex carbohydrates — and cheese offers protein and healthy fats,” Heckler said.

The best part of this snack choice is you can mix and match crackers and cheese varieties so you don’t fall into a snack rut. 5. Apple and peanut butter

Great snack picks are a balance of carbs, healthy fat, protein and fiber, and the apple and peanut butter combo fits the bill, said Julie Lopez, RD, owner of Virtual Teaching Kitchen and based in New Jersey.

Packaged sliced apples and individual peanut butter cups can make this snack option a cinch. Picking better snacks has impactful benefits

Research shows how eating nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables throughout the day boosts brainpower, mood, engagement and productivity.

In addition to creating a better snack plan, stay hydrated throughout the day by drinking plenty of water, Heckler recommended.

What do you think? Post a comment.

“Dehydration can negatively impact cognitive function,” she said.

Also, keep your snack breaks snack-sized.

“Portion control is also important to avoid feeling sluggish after snacking,” Heckler said.

Read more at nypost.com

New atlas of brain cells offers insight on disorders like autism and ADHD


Scientists are one step closer to understanding the human brain. NPR’s Jon Hamilton reports on a new atlas that catalogs more than 170 billion brain cells that allow us to walk, talk and think.

JON HAMILTON, BYLINE: The atlas arrived in the form of more than 20 research papers in three different scientific journals. Together, the papers map out the location, structure and function of at least 3,000 types of brain cells. Ed Lein of the Allen Institute for Brain Science is one of several hundred researchers who worked on the project.

ED LEIN: We really need this kind of information if we’re going to understand what makes us unique as humans or what makes us different as individuals, or how does the brain develop.

HAMILTON: Lein says the atlas also offers a way to study conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s to depression.

LEIN: You can use this map to understand what actually happens in disease and what kinds of cells may be vulnerable or affected.

HAMILTON: The atlas still isn’t finished. Researchers expect to find even more types of cells, and they don’t fully understand some of the ones they’ve already found, like splatter neurons. Lein says the name describes what these highly complex cells look like when they’re represented in two dimensions instead of three.

LEIN: When you do that with these types of neurons, it looks a bit like a Rorschach test. It’s a splatter of these types of cells.

HAMILTON: Like bugs on a windshield. Lein says the atlas in its current form amounts to a first draft.

LEIN: But it really has set the stage to show that this is a definable system.

HAMILTON: And already, the atlas is offering a way to see how the human brain differs from animal brains. Dr. Trygve Bakken of the Allen Institute says humans have some specialized cells for processing visual information that mice don’t.

TRYGVE BAKKEN: We share kind of a basic plan with mice, but we see specializations in primates that we don’t necessarily see in a mouse.

HAMILTON: Those specializations are present in primates like chimps and gorillas, whose brains were also mapped as part of the atlas project. But Bakken says in those species, scientists found subtle differences in the brain areas that humans use to process language.

BAKKEN: What we found in this study is that there really is a conserved set of cell types that we share with chimpanzees and gorillas, but the gene expression has changed in those cells.

HAMILTON: In ways that suggest humans’ language abilities are the result of a different wiring, not different brain cells. The atlas project is funded largely by the National Institutes of Health as part of its BRAIN Initiative, which was launched a decade ago by President Obama. One of its goals is to find new treatments for brain disorders. Bing Ren of the University of California San Diego says these disorders often occur when our DNA undergoes subtle changes.

BING REN: Interpreting those changes actually has been the hard part because we lacked the dictionary to understand what they are.

HAMILTON: So as part of the atlas project, Ren and his team have been creating a dictionary that links genetic changes to specific types of brain cells.

REN: For example, we found that late-onset Alzheimer’s disease are particularly associated with a type of cell we call microglia.

HAMILTON: An immune cell that’s known to be activated in Alzheimer’s patients. Ren says the dictionary also connected genes that raise the risk of major depressive disorder with one particular set of neurons.

REN: By contrast, a different set of neurons are being linked to the risk of schizophrenia.

HAMILTON: Ren says this sort of information could lead to treatments that target specific types of cells. The new research papers appear in the journals Science, Science Advances and Science Translational Medicine.

Jon Hamilton, NPR News.

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Social media use linked to TEENAGE DEPRESSION, warn mental health experts

Social media use linked to TEENAGE DEPRESSION, warn mental health experts


For many teenagers, spending several hours on their phones scrolling through social media is considered normal, even boring at times. But health experts are worried, especially because of the growing link between frequent social media use, teenage depression and mental health .

Scientists are starting to uncover alarming connections between social media use and depression. According to data, every additional hour spent on social media sites is linked with more depressive symptoms.

Because the prevalence of major depressive episodes among adolescents increased from 8.1 percent to 15.8 percent between 2009 and 2019, mental health experts started studying the factors contributing to this change.

Jean M. Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University , explained that there are many causes of depression and that they often interact.

Twenge added that while some individuals have a genetic predisposition to depression, they might only become depressed if “the environment creates the right conditions.” Unfortunately, spending too much time on social media could be one of those factors. Social media, connections and isolation

Social media may trigger depression by doing the opposite of what it was allegedly created to do: Fostering a sense of community and helping people maintain friendships.

Roger McFillin, board-certified in behavioral and cognitive psychology, warned that the rise of social media has caused some young people to become less socially adept, instead isolating themselves behind screens rather than experiencing real life firsthand.

To illustrate, sports participation has decreased significantly since 2008. According to the National Survey of Children’s Health, only 24 percent of six- to 17-year-olds engage in at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day, which is down from 30 percent a decade earlier. (Related: Poll: Parents most concerned about excessive use of SOCIAL MEDIA and mobile devices as kids return to school .)

After all, children and teens might feel less inclined to play a sport, which is often “physically, psychologically and relationally challenging,” when the alternative is social media, where you can have the illusion of participation without being challenged in many ways, added McFillin.

Research proves this disconnect. According to a 2023 study published in the journal Health Psychology and Behavioral Medicine , those using social media primarily to maintain relationships “feel lonelier than those using it for other reasons.”

The report revealed that even if social media facilitates social contact to a degree, it still does not “facilitate the type of contact sought by those who use social media primarily for this reason.” This supports previous findings that Facebook users are often lonelier than nonusers.

McFillin explained that “[g]enuine engagement occurs in person” and that excessive social media can often perpetuate feelings of loneliness, especially because heavy users may withdraw from the real world.

In a 2017 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine , researchers reported that young adults who used social media excessively ” feel more socially isolated than their counterparts” who weren’t as active on social media.

While social media promises connection, it can’t replace in-person interaction. Additionally, overreliance on social media may undermine the real relationships humans need to feel connected to their loved ones.

A different study from 2023 published in the journal Brain Sciences backs this. For this study, scientists instructed 30 volunteers to list 20 of their loved friends or relatives, 20 loved influencers or celebrities and 20 people they felt no closeness to.

The volunteer’s brain activity was recorded via EEG as they viewed the names. Data showed that the brain wave response to loved ones was much greater than to influencers.

According to the researchers, brain imaging revealed that “there is nothing like a real friend.”

Read more news related to depression and mental health at DepressionSymptoms.news .

Watch the video below to learn about the negative side effects of social media addiction . Social Media Addiction Downside

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This Is The Largest Map of The Human Brain Ever Made

This Is The Largest Map of The Human Brain Ever Made

Insights into thousands of types of brain cell could improve understanding of diseases and cognition. Credit: Researchers have created the largest atlas of human brain cells so far, revealing more than 3,000 cell types — many of which are new to science. The work, published in a package of 21 papers today in Science , Science Advances and Science Translational Medicine , will aid the study of diseases, cognition and what makes us human, among other things, say the authors.

The enormous cell atlas offers a detailed snapshot of the most complex known organ. “It’s highly significant,” says Anthony Hannan, a neuroscientist at the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health in Melbourne, Australia. Researchers have previously mapped the human brain using techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging, but this is the first atlas of the whole human brain at the single-cell level, showing its intricate molecular interactions, adds Hannan. “These types of atlases really are laying the groundwork for a much better understanding of the human brain.”

The research is part of the US National Institutes of Health’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies Initiative — Cell Census Network (BICCN), a collaboration between hundreds of scientists. The programme’s goals include cataloguing brain cell types across humans, non-human primates and mice to improve understanding of the cellular mechanisms behind poorly understood brain disorders. The data from the 21 studies have been made publicly available on the Neuroscience Multi-omic Archive online repository. Cellular menagerie

Kimberly Siletti, a neuroscientist now at the University Medical Center Utrecht in the Netherlands, and her team laid the cornerstone for the atlas by sequencing the RNA of more than 3 million individual cells from 106 locations covering the entire human brain, using tissue samples from three deceased male donors. They also included one motor cortex dissection from a female donor that had been used in previous studies. Their analysis documented 461 broad categories of brain cell that included more than 3,000 subtypes. “I was surprised at how many different cell types there were,” says Siletti.

Neurons — cells in the brain and nervous system that send and receive signals — varied widely in different parts of the brain, suggesting different functions and developmental histories. The mix of neurons and other cell types also differed across each region; some cells were only found in specific locations. The brainstem — a relatively under-studied structure connecting the brain to the spinal cord — harboured a particularly high number of neuron types, says study co-author Sten Linnarsson, a molecular systems biologist at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. “One of the big surprises here is how incredibly complex the brainstem is.”

Other studies drilled into the mechanisms of gene regulation and expression in different cells. Joseph Ecker, a molecular biologist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California, and his colleagues investigated the brain through an epigenetic lens using tissue samples from the same three donors. They analysed chemical markers that switch genes on or off in more than 500,000 individual cells. The various molecules that acted as switches enabled the team to identify nearly 200 brain cell types. Even the same gene in the same type of cell could have different characteristics across the brain. One gene was turned on with one switch at the front of the brain and with another at the back. “There are remarkable regional differences,” says study co-author Wei Tian, a computational biologist at the Salk Institute.

Pinpointing the switches that activate or block gene expression in brain cells could be useful for diagnosing brain disorders and developing tailored treatments, says Ecker. “That’s another tool that comes out of the toolbox we’re building,” he says. Disease risk

Improving understanding of how genetic switches might contribute to disease risk was also a focus for Bing Ren, a molecular biologist at the University of California, San Diego, and his team. They analysed how more than one million brain cells from the three donors access and use genetic information. The researchers uncovered links between certain brain cell types and neuropsychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder, depression and schizophrenia.

Ren and his colleagues used the cell-type data to predict how the genetic switches influence gene regulation and increase the risk of neurological diseases. For instance, in cells called microglia , which clear away dead or damaged cells, the presence of some genetic switches was strongly linked to risks of Alzheimer’s disease. Such findings can be used to test whether particular genes or faulty switches contribute directly to the onset of disease. “This is made possible because we have — for the first time — delineated the genetic switches for hundreds of different cell types,” says Ren.

The next step for the BICCN team is to sequence more cells from all parts of the brain, says Ren. The researchers will also work with more tissue samples to build a picture of how the human brain can vary across populations and age groups. “This is only the beginning,” says Ren.

This article is reproduced with permission and was first published on October 12, 2023. Sign up for Scientific American ’s free newsletters. ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)

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MICROPLASTIC INVASION: Researchers find microplastics in human heart tissue

MICROPLASTIC INVASION: Researchers find microplastics in human heart tissue

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Microplastic pollution is a growing issue globally because of its negative effects on the environment, especially marine animals. These tiny plastic fragments persist in nature and have been shown to cause deleterious changes in fish and other ocean inhabitants when ingested, often resulting in their death.

Microplastics can also absorb harmful pollutants from the environment which they can transfer to the human food chain. Aside from contaminating seafood , microplastics enter the human body via plant- and animal-based foods, plastic food packaging and everyday products that contain or are made of plastic.

Over the years, studies have warned that microplastics can accumulate in human tissues and cause serious health problems , such as gastrointestinal disorders, immune and respiratory issues, chromosomal alterations and infertility.

More recently, alarming reports from around the world have emerged with direct evidence of the presence of microplastics in human blood samples and even in the hearts of cardiac surgery patients . Microplastics circulate in the human body

In a 2022 study published in the journal Environment International , researchers from the Netherlands successfully identified and quantified plastic polymers in blood samples taken from 22 healthy volunteers. They were testing a new sampling and analytical method which they developed specifically to measure plastic particles at least 700 nanometers in size in human blood.

Their analysis showed that “plastic particles are bioavailable for uptake into the human bloodstream,” with polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polyethylene (PE) and various polymers of styrene having the highest concentrations in the blood samples. The maximum concentrations measured for PET, PE and polystyrene (PS) in the blood samples were 2.4 micrograms (mcg)/milliliter (mL), 7.1 mcg/mL and 4.8 mcg/mL, respectively.

PE and PET are industrial plastics commonly used for packaging (e.g., plastic bags, films and bottles), while styrene polymers like PS can be found in medical products, electronics, food packaging and common household products. It should be noted that while research on the health risks associated with microplastics are limited, the presence of microplastics in human blood could be damaging to healthy tissues and organs, if studies on animals are anything to go by.

An earlier study reported that microplastics can “latch onto the outer membranes of red blood cells” and interfere with their ability to transport oxygen to vital organs. Meanwhile, studies on mice suggest that microplastics in the bloodstream could also breach the blood-brain-barrier and potentially increase a person’s risk of developing neurodegenerative disease. (Related: Study: Microplastics accumulate in the brain and cause behavioral changes associated with dementia .)

A recent study using cells derived from the human brain confirmed this risk, noting that weathered microplastics produced from the breakdown of microplastics in the environment by wind and ultraviolet light, can increase the activation of brain immune cells (microglial cells) and pathways that lead to neurodegeneration. Overactivation of microglial cells triggers severe brain inflammation, which is said to play a crucial role in the development and progression of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Microplastics are infiltrating human organs

Aside from the brain, the heart and its surrounding tissues are also in danger of sustaining damage due to the presence of microplastics. In a study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology , Chinese researchers reported detecting various microplastics in heart tissue samples collected from 15 cardiac surgery patients.

The tissues sampled included the pericardium , the membrane enclosing the heart; the epicardial adipose tissue , which is the fat depot located between the pericardium and the myocardium; the myocardium , or the cardiac muscle; the pericardial adipose tissue , the fat depot located outside the pericardium; and the left atrial appendage , an ear-shaped outpouching of the muscular wall of the left atrium that receives oxygenized blood.

The researchers found nine types of microplastics across the five types of heart tissue they collected, with the largest measuring 469 micrometers in diameter. They also detected nine types of microplastics with a maximum diameter of 184 micrometers in blood samples taken from the patients before and after cardiac surgery. (Related: Microplastics are EVERYWHERE: Yes, even in your gut and the food you eat, warn scientists .)

The researchers noted that the type and diameter distribution of microplastics in the blood samples varied before and after surgery, suggesting that some of the microplastics may have entered the patients’ bloodstreams during their operations . The researchers believe these microplastics came directly from the air in the operating rooms, citing previous research that reported the same happening.

On the other hand, they detected the presence of polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), a transparent plastic used in car windows and smartphone screens, in samples taken from the left atrial appendage, epicardial adipose tissue and pericardial adipose tissue. The presence of PMMA in the samples cannot be attributed to accidental exposure during surgery, hence it provides “direct evidence of microplastics in patients undergoing cardiac surgery.”

“The detection of microplastics in vivo [in the living body] is alarming, and more studies are necessary to investigate how the microparticles enter the cardiac tissues and the potential effects of microplastics on long-term prognosis after cardiac surgery,” the study authors wrote in their report.

Although the present study is the first to report microplastics in the human heart, this is not the first instance researchers have found microplastics in a human organ. An earlier study published in the journal Science of The Total Environment reported finding airborne microplastics in human lung tissue samples . British researchers collected the samples from patients undergoing surgical resection for cancer or lung volume reduction surgery.

Using advanced infrared spectroscopy, the researchers identified 39 microplastics in 11 of the 13 lung tissue samples they analyzed. They noted that PET, resin and polypropylene, a commonly used thermoplastic, were the most abundant plastic polymers in the lungs of lung patients. Their findings prove that apart from ingestion, microplastics can also enter the human body via inhalation and accumulate in the lungs. Exposure to occupational levels of airborne microplastics in industrial settings has been shown to cause respiratory symptoms and […]

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A new map of the human brain offers insights, clues to future treatments.

A new map of the human brain offers insights, clues to future treatments.



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This is a modal window. This modal can be closed by pressing the Escape key or activating the close button. In 21 papers published as a package Thursday, researchers have provided a new map of the human brain, refining the resolution, as one scientist described it, from a rough outline of a shoreline to a satellite view with topography.

They’re still far from a GPS guide to what’s inside our skulls. However, the new brain cell atlas offers more guidance for researchers desperate to find effective treatments for a wide range of disorders, including addiction, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s.

The studies are part of the National Institute of Health’s BRAIN Initiative Cell Census Network, a five-year program launched in 2017 to create a catalog of brain cell types.

In the new studies, published Thursday in “Science” and related journals , the researchers identified more than 3,000 kinds of cells ‒ an order of magnitude beyond what scientists have known before.

“It’s the most complex cellular organ and we just haven’t had this basic understanding,” said Ed Lein, a senior investigator at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, who helped lead several of the studies. “If we don’t have a good understanding of the system, we’re not going to be able to treat diseases, to understand what really goes wrong.” Implications for disease research

These new maps are particularly useful for understanding the territory of brain diseases such as cancer, said Sten Linnarsson, a leader of some of the research and a professor of molecular systems biology at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.

Cancer cells follow the same genetic programs found in normal brain cells, but in a distorted way, he said. Some cancer cells seem to repeat the pattern of early brain development, almost growing a new brain within a brain, he said. In other cancer cells, genes involved in wound healing are turned on, as if the brain senses there is something wrong and activates repair mechanisms.

We can get clues about how brain tumors behave, Linnarsson said, by comparing a brain with cancer to the “very organized architecture of the healthy, normal brain and brain development.”

Some of that was understood before, he said, but now researchers have a much higher resolution and more systematic map with a lot more cell types. Before, scientists could identify that there were cells called astrocytes involved; now, they can identify different kinds of astrocytes in different parts of the brain operating with different genetic programs.

“It will be the job for future work to figure out what that means for disease,” Linnarsson said.

Bing Ren, another research leader, said the brain atlas will allow researchers to compare healthy brains to the brains of people with neurological disorders, including schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s and addiction, and could eventually lead to advances in diagnoses and treatment.

Understanding which cells are involved and which genes are turned on and off in different brain conditions should allow more precise diagnoses for disorders that are now mainly identified by their symptoms, said Ren, also a professor at the University of California, San Diego. It can be difficult to test drugs for conditions like autism for which there is no objective diagnosis or measure of improvement; genetic analysis could provide that measure.

“The goal of the brain initiative is to really break that barrier and gain a fundamental understanding of the complex neurological disease mechanisms and to begin to develop strategies to mitigate such disorders,” Ren said. Delving deep into the brain

Just as sequencing the human genome was only the beginning of being able to understand the role of genes, so this map is just the first step toward understanding the brain, Ren said. “Interpreting the information is now the hard part.”

Every human brain has roughly 200 billion neurons ‒ the brain cells that send electrical signals.

When he was in college in the ’90s, Ren said, he was taught there were two types of neurons. In his new study, in which he and his colleagues examined 1.1 million brain cells, they found more than 90 different types of neurons ‒ but he suspects there might be thousands. “And we don’t have a very good idea of what they are and what they do.”

Plus, neurons are only one type of brain cell. Non-neuronal cells outnumber neurons by 5 or 10 to 1.

“We are looking at complicated brain maps and trying to gain a first glance of the variety of the cell types in the human brain in terms of their cell type identity, in terms of their anatomic locations and in terms of their connections among each other,” he said. “That’s a monumental job. We have to do it step by step.” Where the brains come from

Most brain research is done on tissue from people who agree to donate their brains after death.

Some of the studies in this package were also conducted on tissue donated by living patients who had brain surgery for epilepsy or cancer.

Laboratory tools now exist to enable never-before feasible genetic analysis of living tissue, said Lein from the Allen Insitute.”Part of what this package (of studies) is about is showing that the modern tools of the field that are normally only used in mouse can all now be applied to human,” he said. “It kind of opens up a whole new era of human neuroscience research where we can ask questions at a whole different level of granularity than has ever been possible.” How our brains compare to our cousins’ Several of the papers compared the human brain to the brains of our closest animal cousins, chimpanzees, gorillas, rhesus macaques, and common marmosets. Cell types are similar across primate brains, the studies found, but genetic activity differs among species.”The genes that really differentiate us from our closest relatives are related to the wiring of the brain and the function of neurocircuits,” Lein said.Evolution has sped up a bit in humans relative to primates, said Dr. Trygve Bakken, […]

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Researchers unveil atlas of human brain

Researchers unveil atlas of human brain

The ultimate goal of a new atlas of the brain released by researchers is to better understand the workings of the human brain — and what goes wrong in the range of neurological and psychiatric conditions that plague humans, from Alzheimer’s to depression to schizophrenia. Photo by cottonbro studio/Pexels After a massive five-year effort, researchers have unveiled an “atlas” that gives an unprecedented look at the intricacies of the human brain.

The atlas , which will be available to researchers everywhere, can be seen as similar to the atlases we all know: a book of maps.

But this one catalogues human brain cells and their striking diversity and complexity. Going forward, the atlas will help other researchers “navigate” the brain, said Bing Ren , a professor at the University of California, San Diego, who was part of the research effort.

The atlas encompasses more than 3,000 types of brain cells, and gives insight into how they vary from one person to another, how they differ from non-human primates’ brain cells, how particular brain cell types are related to specific diseases, and more.

The ultimate goal, Ren and other experts said, is to better understand the workings of the human brain — and what goes wrong in the range of neurological and psychiatric conditions that plague humans, from Alzheimer’s to depression to schizophrenia.

The publication of the brain cell atlas, Ren said, “is just the beginning.”

The work is detailed in a collection of 21 papers being published Friday in the journals Science, Science Advances and Science Translational Medicine. In all, the project involved hundreds of scientists from different countries, brought together under the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s BRAIN Initiative program.

The ambitious project was possible thanks to new technology that allows scientists to study features and functions of individual cells.

That kind of deep understanding of brain cells could eventually lead to new, highly targeted treatments for neuropsychiatric conditions — including ones no one has thought of yet, said Dr. Panos Roussos , a professor at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine in New York City, who worked on the project.

Many current medications for those diseases target neurotransmitters, chemicals that help brain cells communicate.

They help many people, but also “leave many others behind,” said Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein , president of the nonprofit Brain and Behavior Research Foundation in New York City.

Borenstein, who was not involved in the atlas project, called it “very important work.”

“It lays the foundation for scientists to better understand how the brain works, in both health and states of disease,” he said. “I think this offers tremendous hope for people who are living with psychiatric illnesses.”

Human brain cells, it’s fair to say, are diverse and complex. Each cell in the brain has the same DNA sequence, but different cell types use different genes, and in different amounts.

To give it an analogy, Ren said brain cells can be regarded as people living in different parts of the world: Depending on where they end up residing in the brain, they speak different languages.

A broad goal, Ren and Roussos said, is to better understand how those different brain cell types interact with one another, in health and in sickness, and to identify the cell types that are relevant to any given disease.

In their study, Ren’s team analyzed three human brains, looking in detail at more than 1 million cells in 42 brain regions. They identified 107 different brain cell subtypes, then were able to correlate certain aspects of cells’ molecular biology to specific diseases — including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and Alzheimer’s disease.

Roussos and his colleagues, meanwhile, studied brain tissue from across the life span, from fetal development to adulthood. That’s critical, Roussos said, since different neuropsychiatric conditions have different ages of onset.

They, too, were able to map certain brain cell types to specific diseases. That included associations that were previously unknown — including linking Tourette syndrome to cells called oligodendrocytes and obsessive-compulsive disorder to astrocytes.

“If you know which cell type is related to a disease, then you can make hypotheses on causes,” Ren said.

He noted that his work, like some studies before it, point to the importance of cells called microglia in Alzheimer’s. Microglia are resident immune cells in the brain, and Ren and other researchers suspect that an abnormal set of “super-activated” microglia play a central role in causing Alzheimer’s, by attacking the brain’s neurons.

“So is there some way we can tone down that over-activation?” Ren said.

Among the project’s other findings: Researchers at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, in Washington, D.C., and other centers studied which genes are “turned on” in individual cells in the human brain — allowing them to categorize more than 3,000 different kinds of brain cells.

Individuals vary widely in their proportions of different kinds of brain cells, and in which genes are active within those cells.

Humans share the same basic brain cell type “architecture” with our closest primate relatives, chimpanzees and gorillas. Where we differ is in which genes those cells “use.” Specifically, those differences are seen in genes that allow brain cells to connect and form circuits.

In a statement, Dr. John Ngai , director of the NIH BRAIN Initiative, said the program’s scientific collaborations are “propelling the field forward at an exponential pace.””The progress, and possibilities, have been simply breathtaking,” he said. More information The U.S. National Institutes of Health has a primer on brain basics. Copyright © 2023 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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