Study Exhibits Real-time Communication between Brain Cells

An advance by neuroscientists of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) could lead to a better comprehension of astrocytes, a star-shaped brain cell that is believed to play a crucial role in various neurological disorders such as Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and Lou Gehrig’s.

Published on the scientific journal, Neuron, this new method allows researchers to peer deep inside the brain of a mouse and watch influence of astrocytes over the nerve-cell communication in real time. To be more specific, the team from UCLA emphasized on the relationship of astrocytes with synapses, the junctions between neurons that allow them to transmit signal to each other and thus convey messages.

Findings of the Study To Open Up Ways for the Treatment of Various Diseases

Baljit Khakh, lead author, a professor of physiology and neurobiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, states that the scientists are now able to see how synapses and astrocytes make physical contact, and determine how these connections alter in disorders such as Huntington’s disease and Alzheimer’s. He, further, added that these findings could open up various new strategies for the purpose of treatment of those diseases, for instance, by making an identification of cellular interactions that support normal functions of the brain.

Neuroscientists have made effort for several years so as to measure how tentacles of astrocytes interact with synapses in a bid to perform significant functions of the brain. Till now, however, no one could come up with a test that would be apt for viewing tissue of adult brain in living mice.

In the method that is created by the team of Professor Baljit Khakh, different colors of light are made to pass through a lens so as to magnify objects that are invisible to the naked human eye and are far smaller than those that are viewable by earlier techniques.

The new test has enabled them to make an observation of how the interactions between astrocytes and synapses change over time, as well as during many different diseases, in mouse models.

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