Thursday, November 23, 2017

Head injuries can alter hundreds of genes and lead to serious brain diseases

By studying how brain trauma affects the hippocampus of rats, researchers from UCLA have recently identified master regulator genes that influence genes linked to a variety of neurological and psychiatric disorders. In this experiment, rats were observed on their performance in a maze. The experimental group were given a fluid to produce a concussion-like brain injury whereas the control did not have brain injuries. When analyzed in the maze after the brain injuries, the group of rats 25% longer to figure out the maze. The researchers then drew RNA from the hippocampus of the rats and leukocytes, and they found 268 genes were altered in the hippocampus and 1215 genes in the leukocytes were changed. This discovery presents the potential for a blood test after brain injury to determine the possibility of a person developing a neurological and/or psychiatric disorder such as Alzheimer's.
This discovery not only is suggestive of a blood test for brain injury patients, but it also opens a window to develop novel treatments for neurological and psychiatric disorders caused by brain injuries. The UCLA researchers also show how crucial the hippocampus is based on the master regulator genes. In recent news, the first discovery of CTE in a NFL football player was found and this study further shows how detrimental brain damage is. While not all brain injuries are preventable such as accidents, the professional sports industry should take more precautions with this information.

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