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:5/3/2016)... 3, 2016  Neurotechnology, a provider of high-precision ... Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) , a complete ... MegaMatcher ABIS can process multiple complex biometric transactions ... of fingerprint, face or iris biometrics. It leverages ... and MegaMatcher Accelerator , which have been ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... LONDON , April 26, 2016 ... EdgeVerve Systems, a product subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: ... a partnership to integrate the Onegini mobile security ... (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20151104/283829LOGO ) The ... enhanced security to access and transact across channels. ...
(Date:4/15/2016)...  A new partnership announced today will help ... in a fraction of the time it takes ... life insurance policies to consumers without requiring inconvenient ... Diagnostics, rapid testing (A1C, Cotinine and HIV) and ... weight, pulse, BMI, and activity data) available at ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... regulatory and technical consulting, provides a free webinar on Performing Quality ... 13, 2016 at 12pm CT at no charge. , Incomplete investigations are still ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 22, 2016  Amgen (NASDAQ: ... of the QB3@953 life sciences incubator to ... health. The shared laboratory space at QB3@953 was created ... a key obstacle for many early stage organizations - ... of the sponsorship, Amgen launched two "Amgen Golden Ticket" ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... , June 22, 2016 Cell ... will allow them to produce up to one ... one lot within one week. These high-quality, consistent ... laboriously preparing cells and spend more time doing ... through a proprietary, high-volume manufacturing process that produces ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... 2016  According to Kalorama Information, the dominant ... market include significant efforts in automation as well ... and affordable sequencers, say the healthcare market research ... including sample prep materials.  The healthcare market research ... for Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) , highlights major ...
Breaking Biology Technology: