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Low-cal diet's effects seen in fly brain, mouthpart
Date:7/16/2012

e, transmit nerve impulses from the brain to muscles, resulting in movement. If neuromuscular junctions degenerate, resulting in the release of less neurotransmitter, then muscle activity diminishes. This is observed in diseases such as myasthenia gravis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)."

The observation that diet could directly affect the amount of neurotransmitter secreted by the neuron was a novel observation that had not been seen previously.

"People have seen that diet has effects on the nervous system, but the nuts and bolts of what it is doing to neurons have not been established," Dr. Eaton said. ""We believe we have shown a novel and important effect."

Probing the fly proboscis

The team genetically engineered a single pair of motor neurons to develop neurodegenerative disease, resulting in a decrease of the flies' ability to extend the proboscis, which they use to gather food. The team then dissected the head to locate the appropriate muscles on the proboscis and quantified the neurotransmitter activity occurring there, which continues to take place even after death.

"We went into the very muscles that that these motor neurons controlled and analyzed neurotransmission using electrodes," Dr. Eaton said. "We showed diet can rescue proboscis extension by increasing the amount of neurotransmitter released. This suggests that diet could be an important therapy for improving muscle function during motor diseases such as ALS."

Next up is to define the proteins in neurons that are being altered by diet restriction, he said.


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Contact: Will Sansom
sansom@uthscsa.edu
210-567-2579
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Source:Eurekalert  

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