Thursday, January 26, 2017
Sunday, July 24, 2016
The number of bacteria in our guts outnumbers the cells of our body. That fact alone makes them a worthy target for research. There is an estimated 1 kilogram of bacteria within each average human adult. Predominantly known for their role in digestion, the range of gut bacteria's influence is only slowly becoming better understood. Gut microbes produce neuroactive compounds and are now known to significantly alter cognitive function and behavior patterns. The so-called gut-brain axis also plays an important role in the early development and maturation of the immune and endocrine systems. The latest study to examine the impact of gut bacteria on neurological behavior is published this week in the journal Cell.
Gut bacteria and autism
The Baylor College team demonstrated that by adding a single, specific species of bacteria into the guts of mice that displayed autism-related social behavior, they could reverse some of the deficits. Past research into modifying autistic behavior has focused on affecting change via electrical brain stimulation. As Mauro Costa-Mattioli, the senior author of the current study, says, "here we have, perhaps, a new approach."
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Regulation of a family of brain proteins known as bromodomain and extra-terminal domain containing transcription regulators (BETs) plays a key role in normal cognition and behavior, according to a study conducted at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and published advanced online on September 21 and in print October 19 in The Journal of Experimental Medicine.
The Mount Sinai study focuses on epigenetics, the study of changes in the action of human genes caused by molecules that regulate when, where and to what degree our genetic material is activated, rather than focusing on genetic changes in the DNA code we inherit from our parents.
While scientists have traditionally focused on finding individual genes responsible for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), recent research has found links between epigenetic regulation and ASD in human patients. Such regulation derives, in part, from the function of specialized protein complexes that bind to specific DNA sequences and either encourage or shut down the expression of a given gene.
Mount Sinai researchers found that BETs, a family of epigenetic regulators that bind to many different genes and contribute to the copying of these genes into messenger RNA, the template used by the cell to make proteins, play a key role in the regulation of normal neuronal development and function. The Mount Sinai study was conducted using a new type of pharmacological compound that does not inactivate BET proteins but, rather, prevents them from binding to the genes... read more