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Stopping a receptor called 'nogo' boosts the synapses
Date:3/18/2008

ns that are extensions of the neuron and help cells talk to other cells. Mice with lots of the nogo receptor had a different mix of dendritic spines than normal mice. In the hippocampus, the mutant mice had fewer mushroom-shaped dendritic spines and more stubby and thin spines than the other mice. Scientists dont yet know the ramifications of the change, but they say its firm evidence that the nogo receptor has effects on the anatomic structure of the brain. Creation and removal of dendritic spines is an important form of brain rewiring.

The team attributes much of the effects of the nogo receptor to its ability to strongly bind to a growth factor known as FGF2 (fibroblast growth factor 2), which in the brain and other parts of the central nervous system nourishes neurons, allowing them to branch out and grow new sprouts. When the nogo receptor is present in abundance, it binds to FGF2 molecules, and as a result neurons no longer branch and sprout as they otherwise would.

Altogether, the findings show that the nogo receptor has a broad impact on processes in the brain that underlie learning and memory, said Giger.

Its known that changes in synaptic strength can lead to rewiring of the nervous system in such a way that we can compensate for mild to moderate injuries, said Giger, who is a scientist in the Center for Neural Development and Disease. Enhancing synaptic plasticity can partially counter the effects of an injury like stroke, or traumatic brain injury. Really, the process happens routinely in many stroke patients its what makes rehabilitation after stroke possible.

Much of the same type of rewiring also happens as a result of exercise. Scientists have shown that exercise improves the brains neuroplasticity, boosting the brains ability to sprout new structures and send crisp signals, which in turn helps people recover from injuries to the central nervous system. And recently, researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stoc
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Contact: Tom Rickey
tom_rickey@urmc.rochester.edu
585-275-7954
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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