New Work could Facilitate Identification of Disruptions

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There is optimism amongst researchers that Bilingual Neurons could now reveal the secrets of brain disease. University of Montreal and McGill Universities have made a new discovery. It is that of ‘cellular bilingualism.’ This is the allowing of just a single neuron to use more than one method (normally two hence the ‘bi’) of communication in the exchange of information.

“Our work could facilitate the identification of mechanisms that disrupt the function of dopaminergic, serotonergic and cholinergic neurons in diseases such as schizophrenia, Parkinson’s and depression,” was stated in writing recently by Dr. Louis-Eric Trudeau of the University of Montreal’s Department of Pharmacology and Dr. Salah El Mestikawy, who is pertaining to a researcher role at the Douglas Mental Health University Institute. She is also a professor at McGill’s Department of Psychiatry.

With much of the details of their research now published in the Nature Reviews Neuroscience Journal, there is definite cause for the optimism they are showing. The results of their research and papers show how a large deal of the neurons of the brain find it possible to control function in the activity of the cerebral through using two chemical messengers.

This simultaneous process is synonymous with neurotransmitters. The name they have attributed to this messaging system is ‘contransmission.’ Detailed in the results of Dr. Trudeau is how; ‘The neurons in the nervous system both in the brain and in the peripheral nervous system are typically classified by the main transmitter they use.” The doctor detailed how different neurons use different chemicals to aid the ‘contransmission’ process with for example; dopaminergic neurons using dopamine as a transmitter. This means of communication is used in many areas such as in learning and motivation.

Where the research sees benefit towards the identifications that will assist in uncovering the reasons behind brain disease is, where there is a breakdown in the process or a ‘malfunction.’ They have found that this breakdown is evident in mental illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease or in Schizophrenia. The researchers have found that the information is being relayed in two ways, but in the diseased brain the information is transmitting not on a simultaneous basis. Depending on the chemical being used by the neuron the time scale under which the information is delivered is different.

If for example glutamate is being used for the transmission of the message along with dopamine then the glutamate message will take longer to get the message to where it is needed.

The same process was found in the brain by the research team when neurons use serotonin (Of particular importance to depression sufferers) and acetylcholine. These chemicals are used in the transmission of information pertaining to controlling aggression, food intake, mood and impulsive actions. They have uncovered that there is an imbalance here when Parkinson’s disease is present along with the addiction to drugs.

“We know very little about the role of ‘contransmission’ in disease, and the regulation of behaviour, however,” it was warned b y Dr. Trudeau. The doctor vowed; “That will have to be the subject of future studies.”

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