Human behavior depends on the excitation and inhibition of neurons, and scientists believe that they are responsible for keeping the circuit of activity in balance.
FREMONT, CA: According to research, it was discovered that immune cells are the brain and play a vital role in regulating behavior. As human behavior depends on the excitation and inhibition of the neurons, and scientists have always believed that neurons are largely responsible for keeping this circuit of activity in balance.
These immune cells, called microglia, are the scavengers that remove the dying cells. In a new study, the team displayed that, similar to inhibitory neurons, and microglia can also sense and suppress excessive neuronal activation. The researchers argued that the findings might have implications for treating the behavioral problems associated with neurodegenerative diseases.
The researchers lowered the population of microglia in mice by utilizing drugs to inhibit the protein receptor CSF1R. Doing so made the animals supersensitive to neuro stimulants. When they gave neuro stimulants to the altered mice, 90 percent of the animals developed long-lasting epileptic seizures, indicative of overexcited neurons. Only 11 percent of the control animals experienced seizures.
The researchers then identified the process behind neuron-microglia communication. When neurons are activated, they release ATP that provides energy for many activities in living cells. Microglia can detect and respond to ATP released from the synaptic junctions between neurons.
The researchers found microglia broke down ATP into adenosine (ADO), which then acts on specific receptors on active neurons' surface to suppress their activation. Blocking enzymes CD39 or CD73—which are involved in converting ATP into ADO—lowered ADO levels and rendered mice more susceptible to seizures due to neuro stimulants, the team reported.
The garbage-consuming role of microglia has already made them a popular target for researchers studying the neurodegenerative disease. A startup recently came to life with $30 million to develop new drugs for neurodegenerative diseases that target microglia dysfunction based on its role in nerve cell inflammation. They already have some animal data in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, frontotemporal dementia, and age-related neuropathologies.
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