Protecting the neuronal architecture

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Protecting nerve cells from losing their characteristic extensions, the dendrites, can reduce brain damage after a stroke. Neurobiologists from Heidelberg University have demonstrated this by means of research on a mouse model. The team, led by Prof. Dr Hilmar Bading in cooperation with Junior Professor Dr Daniela Mauceri, is investigating the protection of neuronal architecture to develop new approaches to treating neurodegenerative diseases. The current research findings were published in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.”

Brain nerve cells possess many arborised dendrites, which can make connections with other neurons. The highly complex, ramified structure of neurons is an important precondition for their ability to connect with other nerve cells, in order to enable the brain to function normally. In earlier studies, the Heidelberg researchers identified the signal molecule VEGFD — Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor D — as a central regulator for maintaining and restoring neuronal structures. “Our current research results demonstrate that a stroke as a consequence of an interruption of the blood supply to the brain leads to a reduction of VEGFD levels. That causes the nerve cells to lose part of their dendrites. They shrink and this leads to impairments of the cognitive and motor abilities,” explains Prof. Bading.

Full article at Science Daily

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