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UC-Irvine scientists present groundbreaking research at Society for Neuroscience conference


UC Irvine Scientists Present Ground-Breaking Research at Society for Neuroscience Conference

Presentations in chronological order:

Men and Womens Brains Age in Different Ways

The brain undergoes gender-specific changes when it ages, UC Irvine scientists have discovered. Researchers looked at four regions of the brain the hippocampus, the entorhinal cortex, the superior frontal cortex, and the somatosensory cortex and found that the number of genes altered during aging differs between the sexes. Overall, men showed more gene changes with aging relative to women, and the changes were initiated earlier in life. Relative to men, women had more genes related to inflammation and immune function and had higher expression of inflammatory marker gene levels across these four regions. These findings suggest that therapies to promote healthy brain aging may affect men and women differently, and that women might benefit from earlier intervention with anti-inflammatory treatments.

Poster: Significant gender differences in the progressive increases in CNS innate inflammatory markers with age

UCI Experts: David Cribbs, associate adjunct professor of neurology; Carl Cotman, director of the Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia, UC Irvine

When: 2-3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3

Where: Poster 52, Aging: Molecular Correlates I; San Diego Convention Center Halls B-H

Brain Cells Work Differently Than Previously Thought

Scientists know that information travels between brain cells along hairlike extensions called axons. For the first time, UCI researchers have discovered that axons dont just transmit information they can turn the signal up or down with the right stimulation, like the volume knob on a radio. This finding may help scientists develop treatments for psychiatric disorders such as depression and schizophrenia in which it is thought that different parts of the brain do not communicate correctly with each other. The study appeared recently in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

Minisymposium: Not Just a Genotype: The Mouse as a Model for Auditory Systems Neuroscience UCI Expert: Raju Metherate, associate professor of neurobiology and behavior, UC Irvine

When: 9:15-9:35 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 4

Where: Minisymposium 110, Thalamocortical Processing: Mechanisms and Modulation; San Diego Convention Center Room 30E

Vitamin B3 Restores Memory Loss Associated with Alzheimers Disease

New research shows that Vitamin B3, also called nicotinamide, can restore memory loss associated with Alzheimers disease. UCI scientists gave this water-soluble vitamin to mice bred to develop plaques and tangles, the two brain lesions that characterize Alzheimers disease. Mice that received the treatment had lower levels of phosphorylated tau, a protein in the brain that can lead to the development of tangles, than untreated mice. These findings suggest that Vitamin B3, often used in energy drinks, might be a safe and effective therapy for people with Alzheimers disease. UC Irvine has received funding to conduct a clinical trial to test Vitamin B3 in humans with the disease.

Poster: Oral Nicotinamide Treatment Induces Ubiquitin-dependent degradation of phospho-tau and restores cognitive function in a mouse model of Alzheimer disease

UCI Experts: Kim Green, project scientist in neurobiology and behavior; Frank LaFerla, professor of neurobiology and behavior; Leslie Thompson, associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior; Joan Steffan, assistant professor of psychiatry, UC Irvine

When: 10-11 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 4

Where: Poster 157, Alzheimers Disease and Other Dementias: Therapies II; San Diego Convention Center Halls B-H

Vitamins E and C Supplements Limit Oxidative Brain Cell Damage, Cognitive Dysfunction

Supplementation with vitamins E and C appears to limit the damage to the DNA and RNA of brain cells, UC Irvine researchers discovered in a study of people older than 90. The two antioxidant vitamins were associated with decreased oxidative damage to brain cells in the frontal cortex. The researchers found that better cognitive performance in elderly subjects is associated with lower levels of oxidative DNA and RNA damage in the brain, and that those taking multivitamins including vitamins E or C tended to perform better on a test of global cognitive ability.

Poster: Cognitive performance, dementia and DNA/RNA oxidative damage in the oldest-old

UCI Experts: Elizabeth Head, assistant professor of neurology; Lori-ann Christie, postdoctoral researcher in the Institute of Brain Aging and Dementia, UC Irvine

When: 2-3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4

Where: Poster 256, Oxidative Stress and Synaptic Transmission; San Diego Convention Center Halls B-H

Nicotine Patch May Have Same Effect as Smoking on Pregnancy

Use of the nicotine patch during pregnancy may produce the same types of neurobehavioral deficits that result from maternal smoking, UC Irvine researchers found. Its well documented that maternal smoking has been linked to lasting deficits in offspring. As a result, many physicians now recommend that pregnant smokers use the nicotine patch as a safer alternative to tobacco during pregnancy. However, UC Irvine researchers found that sustained prenatal exposure to low doses of nicotine, similar to that seen with the nicotine patch, produces substantial changes in the brains of adolescent offspring. Tests with pregnant rats show that nicotine exposure during gestation has marked effects on the maturation of the adolescent brain similar to those resulting from maternal smoking.

Poster: Gestational nicotine exposure induces region-specific, sex-dependent changes in adolescent dopamine systems

UCI Experts: Jennifer Dwyer, graduate researcher in pharmacology, UC Irvine; Frances M. Leslie, professor of pharmacology, UC Irvine

When: 4-5 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 4

Where: Poster 274, Nicotine Addiction: Developmental Effects; San Diego Convention Center Halls B-H

Acupuncture works in lowering blood pressure in hypertensive patients

UC Irvine researchers have found that electroacupuncture (EA) at select acupoints, performed once or twice weekly for four-to-eight weeks, significantly reduces blood pressure in patients with hypertension. In this study, the researchers identified specific acupoints on hypertensive patients that trigger neurons in the hypothalamus, midbrain and medulla to release chemicals that reduce excitatory responses in the cardiovascular system. This resulted in a decrease in heart activity and its need for oxygen, which in turn lowered blood pressure and can promote healing for a number of cardiac ailments, such as myocardial ischemia (insufficient blood flow to the heart) and hypertension. Acupuncture is increasingly being used as an alternative medical therapy, and this is among the first clinical studies to examine how EA works to lower blood pressure in humans.

Poster: Long-lasting inhibitory effect of EA on blood pressure in patients with mild to moderate hypertension

UCI Experts: Peng Li, researcher in cardiology, UC Irvine; Dr. John Longhurst, cardiologist and the Lawrence K. Dodge Professor in Integrative Biology, UC Irvine

When: 10-11 a.m. Monday, Nov. 5

Where: Poster 417, Cardiovascular Regulation III; San Diego Convention Center Halls B-H

Researchers Restore Memory Process in Most Common Form of Mental Disability

UC Irvine scientists have discovered how to reverse the learning and memory problems inherent in the most common form of mental impairment. The team identified how a mutated gene linked to fragile X syndrome blocks brain cells from locking new memories into lasting ones. The gene called fragile X mental retardation 1 (Fmr1) is turned off in people with fragile X syndrome. This genetic mutation disrupts cellular processes that are needed for memory formation. The researchers found that by adding brain-derived neurotrophic factor proteins to the hippocampus region of fragile X syndrome test mice, memory-forming capacities of the brain cells were completely restored. The findings suggest the possibility of fragile X syndrome therapies that allow for increased learning and memory.

Poster: Hippocampal LTP is impaired in a mouse model of Fragile X syndrome and rescued by Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor

UCI Expert: Julie Lauterborn, associate researcher in anatomy and neurobiology, UC Irvine

When: 11 a.m. Noon Monday, Nov. 5

Where: Poster 362, LTP: Postsynaptic Mechanisms; San Diego Convention Center Halls B-H

MRI Can Help Identify Cognitive Deficits Following Febrile Seizures UC Irvine epilepsy researchers have used MRI to identify the changes in brain cells marking the cognitive deficits following febrile seizures. This discovery shows for the first time a potential marker of children who might be at risk for brain dysfunction after long febrile seizures. Febrile seizures, convulsions associated with fever, are the most common seizures that occur in infants and children. In this study, the researchers performed MRI tests on the brains of baby rats after they experienced an experimental febrile seizure and found a correlation between brain cell changes and performance on a learning/memory test. Test results point toward early recognition and care of children who are at risk for cognitive problems after long febrile seizures. Poster: Are MRI changes predictive of cognitive deficits after experimental prolonged febrile seizures? UCI Experts: Celine Dub, project scientist in anatomy and neurobiology, UC Irvine; Dr. Tallie Z. Baram, the Danette Shepard Chair in Neurological Sciences, UC Irvine When: 11 a.m. - Noon. Monday, Nov. 5 Where: Poster 375, Epilepsy: Animal Models I; San Diego Convention Center Halls B-H

Methamphetamine Use Impairs Learning

UCI scientists have demonstrated in rats that methamphetamine use can impair their ability to learn. This result has been observed in humans but only a few times replicated in an animal model. The UCI finding adds to growing evidence that methamphetamine, in addition to causing brain damage in humans and animals, creates behavioral impairments in rats that may reflect the cognitive dysfunction observed in humans. It also could help scientists develop new treatments for people suffering from the side effects of methamphetamine.

Poster: The effect of a neurotoxic regimen of methamphetamine on attentional set-shifting performance of Long-Evans rats

UCI Experts: John Marshall, professor of neurobiology and behavior; Mimi Belcher, graduate student in neurobiology and behavior, UC Irvine

When: 11 a.m. Noon Tuesday, Nov. 6

Where: Poster 610, Learning, Memory, and Addiction; San Diego Convention Center Halls B-H

Blood Test Holds Promise for Alzheimers Disease Diagnosis

UC Irvine scientists have found that gene expression patterns in white blood cells taken from patients with Alzheimers disease differ significantly from patterns in healthy people of the same age and sex. The difference was large enough, the researchers say, that it was possible by looking only at the blood samples to tell which ones belong to the Alzheimers patients. The finding could provide the basis for a simple and reliable blood test to diagnose Alzheimers disease.

Poster: Gene expression changes in peripheral blood cells in Alzheimers disease: Evidence of pathology outside the brain?

UCI Experts: Dr. Andrius Baskys, associate professor of psychiatry and human behavior, UC Irvine; Jennifer Koontz, graduate researcher, UC Riverside

When: 9-10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7

Where: Poster 795, Alzheimers Disease and Other Dementias: Genetics and Fuctional Genomics; San Diego Convention Center Halls B-H


Contact: Tom Vasich
University of California - Irvine

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