Health Care System for Aging Nerve Cells
Uncontrolled neuronal death in the brain often gives rise to neurodegenerative illnesses like Parkinson or Alzheimer disease. Whether or not neurons have a long and healthy life is, apart from other factors, determined by the presence of neurotrophic factors. Scientists of the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology have now provided unambiguous proof that the presence of the neurotrophic factor GDNF and its receptor Ret are essential for the survival of neurons in a specific brain region. In mice the researchers inactivated the receptors of two neurotrophic factors in the substantia nigra, an area in which early cell death gives rise to Parkinson disease.
The brains of these mice developed normally, however in the adult animal a significant decrease of dopaminergic neurons was observed over time, similar to what is seen in patients suffering form Parkinson disease. (PLoS Biology, March 5, 2007).
Parkinson patients suffer from loss of dopaminergic neurons in a certain region of the brain, the substantia nigra. Several experiments seem to indicate that the neurotrophic factor GDNF and its receptor might prevent an early, uncontrolled death of these neurons. The international team consisting of Edgar Kramer, Liviu Aron, Sabine Seitz und R