Sunday, 12 June 2016

Damaged Mitochondria Lead To Nerve Pain: Repair Them And The Pain Goes Away!

Today's post from the ever-informative, (see link below) delves deep into the cellular behaviour of nerve cells but comes out with a potential benefit for us all in the future. If you feel this is all beyond you on a lazy Sunday morning, don't be put off; read on, because science daily nearly always delivers text that we can all follow. In this case it concerns the energy drivers of nerve cells and they are mitochondria. If the mitochondria are damaged or inhibited in some way then neuropathy is most often the result because if the neurons are deprived of the energy they generate then they just give up the ghost and start short-circuiting in the ways we feel every day. Basically, scientists have found that if the mitochondria are damaged, they can regenerate themselves if the protein that is blocking them, is disabled and that's apparently the ever-suffering mice in the test labs. Too molecular for you? Well yes but we must take heart that scientists are learning so much more every year and this is leading to improved treatments...however long it takes.

Mobilizing mitochondria may be key to regenerating damaged neurons 
Date:June 7, 2016 Source:Rockefeller University Press

Researchers at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke have discovered that boosting the transport of mitochondria along neuronal axons enhances the ability of mouse nerve cells to repair themselves after injury. The study, "Facilitation of axon regeneration by enhancing mitochondrial transport and rescuing energy deficits," which has been published in The Journal of Cell Biology, suggests potential new strategies to stimulate the regrowth of human neurons damaged by injury or disease.

Neurons need large amounts of energy to extend their axons long distances through the body. This energy -- in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) -- is provided by mitochondria, the cell's internal power plants. During development, mitochondria are transported up and down growing axons to generate ATP wherever it is needed. In adults, however, mitochondria become less mobile as mature neurons produce a protein called syntaphilin that anchors the mitochondria in place. Zu-Hang Sheng and colleagues at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke wondered whether this decrease in mitochondrial transport might explain why adult neurons are typically unable to regrow after injury.

Sheng and his research fellow Bing Zhou, the first author of the study, initially found that when mature mouse axons are severed, nearby mitochondria are damaged and become unable to provide sufficient ATP to support injured nerve regeneration. However, when the researchers genetically removed syntaphilin from the nerve cells, mitochondrial transport was enhanced, allowing the damaged mitochondria to be replaced by healthy mitochondria capable of producing ATP. Syntaphilin-deficient mature neurons therefore regained the ability to regrow after injury, just like young neurons, and removing syntaphilin from adult mice facilitated the regeneration of their sciatic nerves after injury.

"Our in vivo and in vitro studies suggest that activating an intrinsic growth program requires the coordinated modulation of mitochondrial transport and recovery of energy deficits. Such combined approaches may represent a valid therapeutic strategy to facilitate regeneration in the central and peripheral nervous systems after injury or disease," Sheng says.

Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by Rockefeller University Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:
Bing Zhou, Panpan Yu, Mei-Yao Lin, Tao Sun, Yanmin Chen, Zu-Hang Sheng. Facilitation of axon regeneration by enhancing mitochondrial transport and rescuing energy deficits. The Journal of Cell Biology, 2016; jcb.201605101 DOI: 10.1083/jcb.20160510

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