Navigation Links
'Long-shot' discovery may lead to advances in treating anxiety, memory disorders
Date:1/7/2011

An unexpected discovery by UCLA life scientists holds promise for the future development of treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder and other anxiety disorders, and potentially for Alzheimer's disease and other memory-impairment diseases.

The researchers, led by UCLA professor of psychology Michael Fanselow, have discovered what may be a completely unexplored drug target for the treatment of anxiety disorders. The research is published Jan. 7 in the journal Science.

Normally, when people or animals experience a frightening event, they learn to fear the place of the event and any signals that were present at the time. This occurs because the nerve cells in certain brain regions increase their ability to excite or stimulate one another, said Fanselow, a member of UCLA's Brain Research Institute.

Most neuroscience research has emphasized how this phenomenon occurs through chemical communication among neurotransmitters flowing across synapses the space between neurons. However, there are also small, inhibitory neurons in these regions as well, which have direct electrical contact with one another through connecting channels known as "gap junctions," Fanselow said. Gap junctions are very common in invertebrates but rare in mammals, where they are found on only certain inhibitory interneurons.

"Because of this, no one has looked at the importance of these gap junctions for learning, memory and emotion," Fanselow said. "We hypothesized that these gap junctions may be very important. Because the gap junctions cause the inhibitory neurons to fire together, they may cause these inhibitory neurons to act as a pacemaker for the excitatory neurons, making them fire at the same time so they are better able to make fear memories."

Fanselow's research team used several drugs in rats that block the gap junctions and found that they disrupted critical rhythms in the dorsal hippocampus the brain region most involved in cognition and prevented fear memories for places from forming. The drugs could block the formation of fear of places when given after the frightening experience.

Neuronal gap junctions may be an unexplored drug target for the treatment of anxiety disorders such as PTSD; they hold promise because giving a regular injection of drugs in a cavity near the abdomen worked as effectively as an injection directly into the brain. In addition, the injections worked when given right after the frightening experience.

"Because we don't know when a person will experience trauma, treatments that can work after the experience hold more promise," Fanselow said.

"The brain has many processes we have not yet explored," he added. "Understanding them and how they normally work can open up new approaches that may help in very prevalent and debilitating diseases, such as anxiety disorders and memory disorders."

Neuronal gap junctions form where inhibitory neurons touch one another. They are like an opening between nerve cells, a gap in the membranes separating the cells from one another; they let the electrical activity in one neuron affect the neuron it touches.

"Our research shows a way that neurons can coordinate their activity, and this coordination is critical for memory formation," Fanselow said. "Perhaps if we had a way of enhancing gap junction function, we may improve memory formation by facilitating gap junctions when memory is impaired by diseases such as Alzheimer's. However, we have not shown this yet."

"I was completely surprised by this discovery," he said. "I really thought we were taking a long shot and was surprised that gap junctions were not only playing a role but that their importance was so great.

"The formation of fear memories is the major cause of anxiety disorders. These disorders are very common and can be very debilitating. Gap junctions appear to be key in coordinating the activity of the network of neurons that produce fear memories, specifically, and probably other memories, generally, as well."


'/>"/>

Contact: Stuart Wolpert
swolpert@support.ucla.edu
310-206-0511
University of California - Los Angeles
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. UCSF Enters Drug Discovery Agreement with Genentech
2. UCSF enters drug discovery agreement with Genentech
3. New discovery: Plaice are spotted (on the inside)
4. SeqWright Advances Genomic Discovery With Isilon IQ
5. Effective prostate cancer treatment discovery
6. Co-Creator of Six Sigma Unveils “The Great Discovery” ... the 4th Generation of Six Sigma
7. U discovery gives insight into brain replay process
8. Discovery of cellular switch may provide new means of triggering cell death, treating disease
9. Discovery May Lead to Better Multiple Sclerosis Treatments
10. Astrogenetix Narrows in on MRSA Virulence Onboard Discovery
11. TGen Drug Development partners with Horizon Discovery for integrated personalized medicine service
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:6/26/2016)... ... June 26, 2016 , ... Pixel Film Studios Released ProSlice ... "Film editors can give their videos a whole new perspective by using the ... of Pixel Film Studios. , ProSlice Levels contains over 30 Different presets to ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... 2016 , ... Experts from the American Institutes for Research ... June 26-28, 2016, at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. , AIR experts ... planning, healthcare costs and patient and family engagement. , AIR researchers will be ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... , ... First Choice Emergency Room , the largest network of independent ... Director of its new Mesquite-Samuell Farm facility. , “We are pleased to announce ... Dr. James M. Muzzarelli, Executive Medical Director of First Choice Emergency Room. , ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... June 25, 2016 , ... Conventional wisdom preaches the benefits ... terms of the latter, setting the bar too high can result in disappointment, perhaps ... slow progress toward their goal. , Research from PsychTests.com reveals that ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , ... June 24, 2016 , ... Marcy was in a crisis. Her son James, ... out at his family verbally and physically. , “When something upset him, he couldn’t control ... use it. He would throw rocks at my other children and say he was going ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 Dehaier Medical Systems ... "Company"), which develops, markets and sells medical devices and ... , signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Hongyuan Supply ... Supply Chain") on June 20, 2016, to develop Dehaier,s ... strategic cooperation agreement, Dehaier will leverage Hongyuan Supply Chain,s ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016   Pulmatrix, Inc ... company developing innovative inhaled drugs, announced today that it ... Russell Investments reconstituted its comprehensive set of U.S. ... "This is an important milestone for Pulmatrix," said ... increase shareholder awareness of our progress in developing drugs ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... June 23, 2016 Research and Markets ... Market - Forecast to 2022" report to their offering. ... method for the patients with kidney failure, it replaces the ... from the patient,s blood and thus the treatment helps to ... chloride in balance. Increasing number of ESRD ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: