About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us

New Molecular Target for Treating Neuropsychiatric Disorders

by Anjali Aryamvally on February 4, 2018 at 7:28 PM
Font : A-A+

New Molecular Target for Treating Neuropsychiatric Disorders

A molecule that aids the process of discarding weak and unwanted neural circuits in the brain, if malfunctioning, could lead to disorders such as autism and dementia, according to a study from Japan.

As the brain develops in utero and in early life, neurons and their connecting synapses branch out rapidly - like a tree. Over time, these connections become more refined and purposeful via a series of molecular mechanisms that prune the connections. Like a gardener trims a tree, weaker branches are discarded to redirect nutrients to help nurture the stronger branches.


However, genetic and environmental mutations can misguide this process and eliminate far too many synapses or not nearly enough. Either extreme can result in a myriad of neuropsychiatric disorders from autism spectrum disorder to schizophrenia to dementia.

The research team was led by Masanobu Kano, professor in the Department of Neurophysiology at the Graduate School of Medicine at the University of Tokyo.

The authors published their results in the journal Neuron.

In a typically developing brain, a type of neuron called a Purkinje cell is furnished with climbing fibers. "Among multiple climbing fibers innervating each Purkinje cell in the neonatal cerebellum, a single climbing fiber is strengthened and maintained throughout an animal's life, whereas the other climbing fibers are weakened and eventually eliminated," Kano says. "Our goal was to identify a new molecule involved in strengthening and maintaining single climbing fiber inputs."

Kano and his team found that progranulin - a protein known to be involved in certain forms of dementia - also works to maintain developing climbing fiber inputs, counteracting the initial elimination. They studied a mouse model engineered without progranulin and found that climbing fibers were more quickly eliminated and climbing fiber input overall was significantly reduced.

"Our results provide a new insight into the roles of progranulin in the developing brain," says Kano. "We will continue to search molecules involved in synapse elimination in the developing cerebellum and, ultimately, we want to elucidate entire signaling cascades for synapse elimination."

Although the researchers do not yet know how to effectively manipulate the molecule, it's possible that progranulin signaling may be a potential therapeutic target for neuropsychiatric disorders.

Source: Eurekalert

News A-Z
News Category
What's New on Medindia
Is COVID-19 Vaccination during Pregnancy Safe?
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

More News on:
Rett Syndrome Walking Corpse Syndrome 

Recommended Reading
Dementia and Progranulin Levels - A Blood Sample Does Not Tell the Full Story!
The levels of progranulin in blood do not correlate with the levels of progranulin in the liquid ......
Traumatic Brain Injury may be Linked to Increased Risks of Dementia
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) may be linked to higher risk of dementia in older age. The ......
Seizure Drug can Help Treat Lewy Body Dementia
Identification of a drug that treats seizure can also treat Lewy body dementia by reducing movement ...
Physical Activity Interventions may not Influence the Onset of Dementia
Prescribed medications, Physical activity and over the counter vitamins may not slow down the onset ...
Rett Syndrome
Rett Syndrome is a neurological disorder that affects development. It mostly affects the girl ......
Walking Corpse Syndrome
Walking Corpse Syndrome or Cotard's Syndrome is an uncommon neuropsychiatric disorder in which patie...

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use