Navigation Links
Neurons get their neighbors to take out their trash
Date:6/19/2014

Biologists have long considered cells to function like self-cleaning ovens, chewing up and recycling their own worn out parts as needed. But a new study challenges that basic principle, showing that some nerve cells found in the eye pass off their old energy-producing factories to neighboring support cells to be "eaten." The find, which may bear on the roots of glaucoma, also has implications for Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other diseases that involve a buildup of "garbage" in brain cells.

The study was led by Nicholas Marsh-Armstrong, Ph.D., a research scientist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and an associate professor in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine's Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience, together with Mark H. Ellisman, Ph.D., a neuroscience professor at the University of California, San Diego. In a previous study, the two had seen hints that retinal ganglion cells, which transmit visual information from the eye to the brain, might be handing off bits of themselves to astrocytes, cells that surround and support the eye's signal-transmitting neurons. They appeared to pass them to astrocytes at the optic nerve head, the beginning of the long tendril that connects retinal ganglion cells from the eye to the brain. Specifically, they suspected that the neuronal bits being passed on were mitochondria, which are known as the powerhouses of the cell.

To find out whether this was really the case, Marsh-Armstrong's research group genetically modified mice so that they produced indicators that glowed in the presence of chewed up mitochondria. Ellisman's group then used cutting-edge electron microscopy to reconstruct 3-D images of what was happening at the optic nerve head. The researchers saw that astrocytes were, indeed, breaking down large numbers of mitochondria from neighboring retinal ganglion cells.

"This was a very surprising study for us, because the findings go against the common understanding that each cell takes care of its own trash," says Marsh-Armstrong. It is particularly interesting that the newly discovered process occurs at the optic nerve head, he notes, as that is the site thought to be at fault in glaucoma. He plans to investigate whether the mitochondria disposal process is relevant to this disease, the second leading cause of blindness worldwide.

But the implications of the results go beyond the optic nerve head, Marsh-Armstrong says, as a buildup of "garbage" inside cells causes neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's, Alzheirmer's and ALS. "By showing that this type of alternative disposal happens, we've opened up the door for others to investigate whether similar processes might be happening with other cell types and cellular parts other than mitochondria," he says.


'/>"/>

Contact: Shawna Williams
shawna@jhmi.edu
410-955-8236
Johns Hopkins Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Research details how developing neurons sense a chemical cue
2. Neurons can use local stores for communication needs
3. Geniposide protects hippocampal neurons via the non-classical estrogen signaling pathway
4. Studies identify spinal cord neurons that control skilled limb movement
5. 7.0T NMR assesses changes in hippocampal neurons in animal models of Alzheimers disease
6. Short-term environmental enrichment exposure induces maturity of newborn neurons
7. Special function of nestin+ neurons in medial septum-diagonal band of Broca in adult rats
8. Light-activated neurons from stem cells restore function to paralyzed muscles
9. Who reprograms rat astrocytes into neurons?
10. Researchers generate new neurons in brains, spinal cords of living adult mammals
11. Research of zebrafish neurons may lead to understanding of birth defects like spina bifida
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/15/2016)... , April 15, 2016 ... the,  "Global Gait Biometrics Market 2016-2020,"  report to ... http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160330/349511LOGO ) , ,The global gait biometrics ... of 13.98% during the period 2016-2020. ... angles, which can be used to compute factors ...
(Date:4/13/2016)... , April 13, 2016  IMPOWER physicians supporting Medicaid ... setting a new clinical standard in telehealth thanks to ... leveraging the higi platform, IMPOWER patients can routinely track ... and body mass index, and, when they opt in, ... convenient visit to a local retail location at no ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... , March 31, 2016  Genomics firm Nabsys ... founding CEO, Barrett Bready , M.D., who returned ... of the original technical leadership team, including Chief Technology ... of Product Development, Steve Nurnberg and Vice President of ... to the company. Dr. Bready served as ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/27/2016)... , June 27, 2016  Liquid Biotech ... the funding of a Sponsored Research Agreement with ... tumor cells (CTCs) from cancer patients.  The funding ... CTC levels correlate with clinical outcomes in cancer ... data will then be employed to support the ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 2016 , ... While the majority of commercial spectrophotometers and fluorometers use the ... models are higher end machines that use the more unconventional z-dimension of 20mm. ... the bottom of the cuvette holder. , FireflySci has developed several Agilent flow ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Mass. , June 23, 2016   ... development of novel compounds designed to target cancer ... napabucasin, has been granted Orphan Drug Designation from ... the treatment of gastric cancer, including gastroesophageal junction ... stemness inhibitor designed to inhibit cancer stemness pathways ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Charm Sciences, Inc. is ... has received AOAC Research Institute approval 061601. , “This is another AOAC-RI approval ... Bob Salter, Vice President of Regulatory and Industrial Affairs. “The Peel Plate methods ...
Breaking Biology Technology: