Navigation Links
Brain parasite directly alters brain chemistry
Date:11/4/2011

A research group from the University of Leeds has shown that infection by the brain parasite Toxoplasma gondii, found in 10-20 per cent of the UK's population, directly affects the production of dopamine, a key chemical messenger in the brain.

Their findings are the first to demonstrate that a parasite found in the brain of mammals can affect dopamine levels.

Whilst the work has been carried out with rodents, lead investigator Dr Glenn McConkey of the University's Faculty of Biological Sciences, believes that the findings could ultimately shed new light on treating human neurological disorders that are dopamine-related such as schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Parkinson's disease.

This research may explain how these parasites, remarkably, manipulate rodents' behaviour for their own advantage. Infected mice and rats lose their innate fear of cats, increasing the chances of being caught and eaten, which enables the parasite to return to its main host to complete its life cycle.

In this study, funded by the Stanley Medical Research Institute and Dunhill Medical Trust, the research team found that the parasite causes production and release of many times the normal amount of dopamine in infected brain cells.

Dopamine is a natural chemical which relays messages in the brain controlling aspects of movement, cognition and behaviour. It helps control the brain's reward and pleasure centres and regulates emotional responses such as fear. The presence of a certain kind of dopamine receptor is also associated with sensation-seeking, whereas dopamine deficiency in humans results in Parkinson's disease.

These findings build on earlier studies in which Dr McConkey's group found that the parasite actually encodes the enzyme for producing dopamine in its genome.

"Based on these analyses, it was clear that T. gondii can orchestrate a significant increase in dopamine production in neural cells," says Dr McConkey.

"Humans are accidental hosts to T. gondii and the parasite could end up anywhere in the brain, so human symptoms of toxoplasmosis infection may depend on where parasite ends up. This may explain the observed statistical link between incidences of schizophrenia and toxoplasmosis infection."

Dr McConkey says his next experiments will investigate how the parasite enzyme triggers dopamine production and how this may change behaviour.


'/>"/>

Contact: Dr. Glenn McConkey
g.a.mcconkey@leeds.ac.uk
44-113-343-2908
University of Leeds
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Impulsive versus controlled men: Disinhibited brains and disinhibited behavior
2. Nicotine primes brain for cocaine use: Molecular basis of gateway sequence of drug use
3. Chemical engineers help decipher mystery of neurofibrillary tangle formation in Alzheimers brains
4. Patterns of new DNA letter in brain suggest distinct function
5. Scientists chart gene expression in the brain across lifespan
6. Environmental toxin Bisphenol A can affect newborn brain
7. Simple gut hormone combo makes our brains think were full
8. A new age in brain research
9. Gene variant leads to better memory via increased brain activation
10. Potential new drugs plug brains biological vacuum cleaner and target HIV
11. Tagging tumors with gold: Scientists use gold nanorods to flag brain tumors
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/6/2017)... Forecasts by Product Type (EAC), Biometrics, Card-Based ... & Logistics, Government & Public Sector, Utilities / Energy ... Nuclear Power), Industrial, Retail, Business Organisation (BFSI), Hospitality & ... for a definitive report on the $27.9bn Access Control ... ...
(Date:4/5/2017)... , April 4, 2017 KEY FINDINGS ... to expand at a CAGR of 25.76% during the ... is the primary factor for the growth of the ... https://www.reportbuyer.com/product/4807905/ MARKET INSIGHTS The global stem ... technology, application, and geography. The stem cell market of ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... March 30, 2017  On April 6-7, 2017, Sequencing.com ... Genome hackathon at Microsoft,s headquarters in ... will focus on developing health and wellness apps that ... Hack the Genome is the first hackathon for ... world,s largest companies in the genomics, tech and health ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:9/19/2017)... ... September 19, 2017 , ... A best-selling author ... tech companies. “Grit” author Angela Duckworth and her team at Character Lab have ... Cooley, an international law firm with decades of experience supporting high-growth companies in ...
(Date:9/19/2017)... SAN FRANCISCO , Sept. 19, 2017 ... Management Solutions (VLMS) is pleased to announce the strategic ... VTI to provide clients with validation services using the ... a partner, VTI will provide clients with efficient and ... be a marketing partner for the ValGenesis VLMS system. ...
(Date:9/19/2017)... NC (PRWEB) , ... September 19, 2017 , ... ... on band technologies for surgical applications, announced today that two new patents have ... , Michael Albert, MD, Co-Founder of Band-LOK, said, “We continue to explore additional ...
(Date:9/18/2017)... SANTA BARBARA, CALIFORNIA (PRWEB) , ... September 18, ... ... risk management, technological innovation and business process optimization firm for the life sciences ... presentation at the ServiceMax Maximize 2017 conference. , What: Digital Transformation in Medical ...
Breaking Biology Technology: