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publicado em 18/10/2010 às 15h00:00
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High exposure to certain protein increases the risk of neurological disorders

The discovery may provide new insights into the factors that contribute to schizophrenia and autism

 
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Researchers at the University of California (UCLA) found that exposure of fetal neurons to levels above normal to a common immune protein leads to abnormal brain development in rats.

The discovery may provide new insights into the factors that contribute to the development of neurological disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.

The researchers studied a protein called major histocompatibility complex, or MHC. The protein plays a dual role in the body, helps the immune system to identify infected cells and allows neurons to make the right connections between the brain itself.

"When neurons perceive infections or damage to the brain, produce MHC maiis," said Daniel Kaufman, a professor of molecular and medical pharmacology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "We wanted to investigate whether higher levels of MHC affect how the brain develops."

Kaufman and his colleagues studied the development of mice whose neurons have been genetically modified to produce more than normal MHC.

Addressing two key brain regions, the researchers analyzed neurons involved in learning and memory. Then the team compared these cells with their counterparts in normal mice.

"The mice whose neurons produce extra MHC showed subtle changes in the connections between neurons in both brain regions," said Kaufman.

Kaufman, infections during pregnancy have been associated with increased risk of schizophrenia and autism. "Subtle changes in brain development due to over-MHC can explain this relationship."

Kaufman noted that female rats that acquired infections during pregnancy also gave birth to offspring with behavioral abnormalities similar to autism and schizophrenia.

"We suspect that the infection stimulates the mother's immune system to produce molecules that act as signals of danger - that circulate through your blood and then directs the developing fetal brain," he said. "This discovery gives us a better understanding of the role that the MHC plays in the nervous system and can improve our understanding of the factors that contribute to neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and autism," Kaufman concluded.

Source: Isaude.net
   Palavras-chave:   Fetal neurons    High exposure    Immune protein   
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