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Date:2/25/2014

to each other, and then pulled them apart, measuring the strength of the adhesion brought about by the MBP "glue" between the bilayers, and also the MBP's adsorption the ability of the MBP molecules to stick to the bilayers' surfaces. They performed this experiment with both healthy myelin and with "disease-like" myelin bilayers.

"A lipid bilayer simulating a normal or healthy myelin membrane adsorbs this protein much better than a lipid bilayer simulating a multiple sclerosis-type of myelin membrane," said UCSB researcher Kai Kristiansen, "meaning that the protein attaches more strongly to the lipid bilayer and can make two apposing lipid bilayers adhere more firmly to each other and at a smaller distance which is highly desirable for a well functioning myelin around a neuron."

One common characteristic of diseased myelin is swelling, due to various causes such as the autoimmune responses associated with MS and its variants, or in cases of infection or exposure to certain chemicals. Genetics also play a role in the health of myelin.

"When the disease progresses, people can see that they swell and eventually vesiculate, creating scars," said Lee. The MBP layer between the lipid bilayers also swells with water that seeps in between the double lipid layers. Instead of being a compact, molecule-thick film, the MBP layer becomes more gel-like.

"And since there's more water between the bilayers, their insulation property decreases," added Lee. From there, impulses slow down along the axon, or dissipate before they reach their destinations, causing paralysis and loss of function.

Diseaserelated changes in the lipid domain structures' size and distribution also causes irregular adsorption of MBP onto the lipid bilayers and weakens their adhesion properties, leading to lower nerve insulation. This in turn also leads to lower nerve insulation.

The molecular study of healthy and diseased myelin bilayers differs from co
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Contact: Sonia Fernandez
sonia.fernandez@ia.ucsb.edu
805-893-4765
University of California - Santa Barbara
Source:Eurekalert  

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