Biologists from the Ruhr-Universitšt Bochum have reported findings after they explored how to protect neurons that control movements from dying off.
In the journal "Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience" they report that the molecule 7,8-Dihydroxyflavone, also known as vitamin P, ensures the survival of motor neurons in culture. It sends the survival signal on another path than the molecule Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which was previously considered a candidate for the treatment of motoneuron diseases or after spinal cord damage. "The Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor only had a limited effect when tested on humans, and even had partially negative consequences", says Prof. Dr. Stefan Wiese from the RUB Work Group for Molecular Cell Biology. "Therefore we are looking for alternative ways to find new approaches for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis."
Same effect, different mode of action
The dose is crucial
However, vitamin P only unfolded its positive effects on the motor neurons in a very small concentration range. "These results show how important an accurate determination of dose and effect is", says Prof. Wiese. An overdose of vitamin P reduced the survival effect, and over a certain amount, no more positive effects occurred at all. The researchers hope that vitamin P could have less negative side effects than BDNF. "It is easier to use, because vitamin P, in contrast to BDNF, can pass the blood-brain barrier and therefore does not have to be introduced into the cerebrospinal fluid using pumps like BDNF," says Wiese.