...The results suggest that an imbalance of the bacterial composition in the gut may be the cause of inflammaging in the elderly. Imbalances, or “dysbiosis” of gut bacteria results in “bad” bacteria being more dominant than “good” bacteria. An overgrowth of bad bacteria can make the lining of the gut become more permeable, allowing toxins to enter the bloodstream where they can travel around the body with various negative effects. Dysbiosis can have serious health implications: several disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, anxiety and autism are already linked to the condition.
A confocal micrograph of a developing fruit fly visual system. Development of the retina (top) is coordinated with development of the optic lobe region of the brain (sphere below). All neurons are marked by yellow and their axon projections in cyan; magenta in the optic lobe marks the specific region of the brain where neuronal differentiation is regulated by glia. NeuroscienceNews.com image is credited to Vilaiwan M Fernandes, Desplan Lab, NYU’s Department of Biology.Type your paragraph here.
“One of the major findings in this study is that there is a dramatic difference in brain activity in the amygdala and hippocampus during inhalation compared with exhalation,” said lead author Christina Zelano, assistant professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “When you breathe in, we discovered you are stimulating neurons in the olfactory cortex, amygdala and hippocampus, all across the limbic system.”
More recent research suggests chronic inflammation may play a role. Inflammation is part of the body’s defence system against disease and occurs when white blood cells release chemicals to protect the body from foreign substances. But, over a long enough period, it can also cause damage.
In the brain, tissue-damaging long-term inflammation can also be caused by a build-up of cells known as microglia. In a healthy brain, these cells engulf and destroy waste and toxins. But in Alzheimer’s patients, the microglia fail to clear away this debris, which can include toxic tau tangles or amyloid plaques. The body then activates more microglia to try to clear the waste but this in turn causes inflammation. Long-term or chronic inflammation is particularly damaging to brain cells and ultimately leads to brain cell death.
The longer-term effects of sleep deprivation are more difficult to study in humans for ethical reasons, but chronic sleep disturbances have been linked to brain disorders such as schizophrenia, autism and Alzheimer’s. We don’t know if sleep disturbances are a cause or symptom of these disorders.
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Using a molecular method likely to become widely adopted by the field, researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health have discovered brain circuitry essential for alertness, or vigilance – and for brain states more generally. Strikingly, the same cell types and circuits are engaged during alertness in zebra fish and mice, species whose evolutionary forebears parted ways hundreds of millions of years ago. This suggests that the human brain is likely similarly wired for this state critical to survival.
A team of biologists has found an unexpected source for the brain’s development, a finding that offers new insights into the building of the nervous system.
The research, which appears in the journal Science, discovered that glia, a collection of non-neuronal cells that had long been regarded as passive support cells, in fact are vital to nerve-cell development in the brain.
“The results lead us to revise the often neuro-centric view of brain development to now appreciate the contributions for non-neuronal cells such as glia,” explains Vilaiwan Fernandes, a postdoctoral fellow in New York University’s Department of Biology and the study’s lead author. “Indeed, our study found that fundamental questions in brain development with regard to the timing, identity, and coordination of nerve cell birth can only be understood when the glial contribution is accounted for.”
The brain is made up of two broad cell types, nerve cells or neurons and glia, which are non-nerve cells that make up more than half the volume of the brain. Neurobiologists have tended to focus on the former because these are the cells that form networks that process information.
However, given the preponderance of glia in the brain’s cellular make-up, the NYU researchers hypothesized that they could play a fundamental part in brain development.
To explore this, they examined the visual system of the fruit fly. The species serves as a powerful model organism for this line of study because its visual system, like the one in humans, holds repeated mini-circuits that detect and process light over the entire visual field.
This dynamic is of particular interest to scientists because, as the brain develops, it must coordinate the increase of neurons in the retina with other neurons in distant regions of the brain.
In their study, the NYU researchers found that the coordination of nerve-cell development is achieved through a population of glia, which relay cues from the retina to the brain to make cells in the brain become nerve cells.
“By acting as a signaling intermediary, glia exert precise control over not only when and where a neuron is born, but also the type of neuron it will develop into,” notes NYU Biology Professor Claude Desplan, the paper’s senior author.