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How metabolism and brain activity are linked - Study sheds light on why diet may help control seizures in epilepsy patients
A new study by scientists at McGill University and the University of Zurich shows a direct link between metabolism in brain cells and their ability to signal information. The research may explain why the seizures of many epilepsy patients can be controlled by a specially formulated diet.
The findings, published in Nature Communications, reveal that metabolism controls the processes that inhibit brain activity, such as that involved in convulsions. The study uncovers a link between how brain cells make energy and how the same cells signal information - processes that neuroscientists have often assumed to be distinct and separate.
"Inhibition in the brain is commonly targeted in clinical practice," notes Derek Bowie, Canada Research Chair in Receptor Pharmacology at McGill and corresponding author of the study. "For example, drugs that alleviate anxiety, induce anesthesia, or even control epilepsy work by strengthening brain inhibition. These pharmacological approaches can have their drawbacks, since patients often complain of unpleasant side effects."
The experiments showed an unexpected link between how the mitochondria of brain cells make energy and how the same cells signal information. Brain cells couple these two independent functions by using small chemical messengers, called reactive oxygen species (or ROS), that are normally associated with signaling cell death. While ROS are known to have roles in diseases of aging, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, the new study shows they also play important roles in the healthy brain.
The findings emerged from an ongoing collaboration between Prof. Bowie's laboratory in McGill's Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics and a research team headed by Dr. Jean-Marc Fritschy, Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Zurich and current director of the Neuroscience Center Zurich (ZNZ). The researchers have the longer term aim of trying to understand why the seizures of many epilepsy patients - especially young children - can be treated with a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet known as the ketogenic diet.
The idea that diet can control seizures was noticed as far back as ancient Greece, during periods of fasting. From the 1920s until the 1950s, the ketogenic diet was widely used to treat epilepsy patients. With the introduction of anticonvulsant drugs in the 1950s, the dietary approach fell out of favour with doctors. But because anticonvulsant drugs don't work for 20% to 30% of patients, there has been a resurgence in use of the ketogenic diet.
"Since our study shows that brain cells have their own means to strengthen inhibition," explains Prof Bowie, "our work points to potentially new ways in which to control a number of important neurological conditions including epilepsy."
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Continuous spike-wave in slow wave sleep syndrome (CSWS) is a rare epilepsy syndrome in which children lose a wide range of developmental abilities, including language, motor skills, memory, and visuospatial skills. This syndrome occurs in school-aged children. Development prior to onset of CSWS may be normal, but children with CSWS often have some pre-existing learning difficulties. In many children there is no known cause of epilepsy, although some children are found to have abnormal brain formation or have a prior history of brain infection. We still do not understand how these structural changes result in the continuous EEG discharge.
Many, but not all, children with CSWS also have seizures. There can be many different seizure types, including absence, generalized tonic-clonic, and focal seizures. The seizures can be difficult to treat. Even in those who already had learning difficulties, there is a clear loss of skills across multiple deve…
Image via Wikipedia Image by icethim via Flickr
If you aren’t getting enough vitamin B12, it is indeed very important –
and you may very well not be thinking about it. One reason you aren’t
thinking about it is that we tend to fall in (and out!) of love with one
nutrient at a time (such as vitamin C, beta carotene, lycopene and so
on), and vitamin B12 isn’t the nutrient du jour. But the other reason
you may not be thinking about it is … because you can’t. A deficiency of
vitamin B12 can limit your ability to think clearly about anything!
(More on that momentarily.)
Like all vitamins, B12 is an organic compound, made from carbons (as
opposed to minerals, which are inorganic), and essential for our normal
metabolic function and health. Also, like most vitamins, B12 plays a
wide variety of roles in our metabolism. The short list of important
effects B12 has on your health includes these: Vitamin B12 is essential for the manufacture of red blood cells; a deficiency leads to a cha…
This fact sheet provides basic information about aloe vera—common names,
uses, potential side effects, and resources for more information. Aloe
vera's use can be traced back 6,000 years to early Egypt, where the
plant was depicted on stone carvings. Known as the "plant of
immortality," aloe was presented as a burial gift to deceased pharaohs.
What Aloe Vera Is Used ForTraditionally, aloe was used topically to heal wounds and for various skin conditions, and orally as a laxative.Today, in addition to traditional uses, people take aloe orally to
treat a variety of conditions, including diabetes, asthma, epilepsy, and
osteoarthritis. People use aloe topically for osteoarthritis, burns,
sunburns, and psoriasis.Aloe vera gel can be found in hundreds of skin products, including lotions and sunblocks.The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved aloe vera as a natural food flavoring. Aloe vera ...Lô Hội, Nha Đam..#1 (Photo credit: Vietnam Plants &…