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Immune molecule regulates brain connections
Date:2/27/2011

p, the number of connections, or synapses, it has with neighboring brain cells goes down. The reverse was also true: decreased MHC expression increased synaptic connections.

"The effect on synapse density was mediated through MHC type I proteins," McAllister said.

"But these immune proteins don't just regulate synapse density, they also determine the balance of excitation and inhibition on young neurons -- a property critical for information processing and plasticity in young brains."

Expression of MHCI on neurons was itself regulated by neural activity, the team found, and MHCI mediated the ability of neural activity to alter synaptic connections.

About 10 years ago, other researchers discovered that MHC type I is involved in elimination of connections during a critical period of late postnatal brain development.

"We have now found that there is another role for MHC type I in establishing connections during early postnatal development of the brain," McAllister said.


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Contact: Andy Fell
ahfell@ucdavis.edu
530-752-4533
University of California - Davis
Source:Eurekalert

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