The complexity of the brain and its function has always left man dazzled for generations. In a key to solving this puzzle, some key factors have been identified that could answer the question regarding what prevents brain damage repair in premature babies and hence help treat prematurity.
Identification of some of the key factors that also prevent brain damage repair in neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis has also ben made possible. A link was established between damage to white matter in the brain associated with premature birth, and damage to immature cells in the brain and spinal cord, called oligodendrocyte progenitors.
These cells normally mature to become oligodendrocytes that make myelin (the insulating sheath surrounding nerve fibres in the brain and spinal cord) throughout life.
In some cases, these cells fail to mature and cannot repair damage to the white matter of the brain.
The white matter is made up of long nerve fibres wrapped in myelin. Different kinds of white matter injury cause cerebral palsy and learning problems in children born prematurely and multiple sclerosis in older children and adults.
It has been reported that hyaluronic acid (HA) prevents immature oligodendrocytes from maturing and coating nerve fibres with new myelin. Astrocytes, the first-responders to nerve damage in the brain, produce HA, which accumulates on nerve fibres where myelin is missing.
This finding could have valuable implications on improving the lives of thousands of premature infants who often die or suffer lifelong from cerebral palsy, mental retardation, chronic lung disease, blindness and hearing loss by invention of new ways to prevent brain damage and improve the overall function.
Source: Indo-Asian News Service
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