An international team of scientists has discovered a new type of brain cell hiding among neurons and their supporting units.
Scientists were amazed to discover that the new cell type has properties of both, allowing it to play an active role in neurological functions while continuing to provide support to the surrounding nervous tissue.
The study revealed that what are known as astrocytes (supporting cells) are abundant in the brain and wrap around neural connections like ‘glue’. For many years, neuroscientists assumed that these cells were completely passive, existing only to protect neurons.
Subsequently, important evidence emerged that astrocytes may contribute to the ‘firing’ of neurons by secreting glutamate, the main neurotransmitter in the brain.
Laboratory studies indicate that astrocytes are able to release and absorb glutamate, but its role in a healthy, living brain is still under investigation.
In this regard, researchers from various institutions in the United Kingdom and Europe found a hybrid stem cell in the brains of mice.
“Between neurons and astrocytes, we now have a new type of cell at hand,” says scientist Andrea Volterra, from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland (UCIL). “Its discovery opens up enormous research prospects.”
Using single-cell RNA sequencing, the researchers identified nine distinct populations of specialized astrocytes in the brain’s hippocampus. Cluster 7 stood out interestingly, as it was located in very separate parts of the hippocampus, while possessing all the molecular machinery needed to mobilize and release glutamate.
The researchers found that these specialized cells release glutamate at tiny hotspots that resemble a synapse, which includes the space where two neurons normally communicate by releasing glutamate.
“They are cells that modulate the activity of neurons, controlling the level of connectivity and excitability of neurons,” explains neuroscientist Roberta De Ceglia, from UNIL.
When these astrocyte-like cells were disabled, the mice showed impaired memory.
Volterra revealed plans for future studies to explore the role of hybrid cells in brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
“By revealing this atypical subset of specialized astrocytes in the adult brain, we provide insight into the complex roles of astrocytes in the physiology and pathology of the central nervous system (CNS), and identify a potential therapeutic target,” the study authors said.
It should be noted that currently, the special cells are called glutamatergic astrocytes, which are the first of their kind.
The study was published in the journal Nature .
WHO : A way to know the effect of excess salt in the body
According to the World Health Organization, the amount of table salt that a person consumes per day should not exceed 5 grams. But in reality some people often consume twice that amount and more.
Consuming more salt than recommended harms health and causes edema, shortness of breath, and even cognitive changes.
According to experts: “A person’s consumption of a larger amount of salt leads to an increase in the osmotic concentration in the blood, which causes the body to retain water. The person begins to drink a lot of water, but does not quench himself. Excess fluids remain in the body, leading to swelling of the arterial and venous blood vessels and the feeling of Vascular headache.
In addition, the pulse increases and blood pressure also rises.
According to Dr. Sergey Agapkin, “To prove that salt is a factor that causes high blood pressure and various cardiovascular diseases, salt consumption must be completely abstained for a period of three days, during which the change in blood pressure, waist and hip circumference, and any other changes must be recorded.”
The interesting thing is that there is a small percentage of people who are not affected by this dietary change. There are those whose abstention from salt consumption, on the contrary, leads to high blood pressure. According to experts.
According to doctors, if a person notices that the blood pressure level decreases and the swelling disappears, it makes sense to limit salt consumption.
Ultra processed foods : A study reveals a link between what goes into processed foods and the risk of heart attack
A new study shows that high intakes of some of the factors used in ultra-processed foods (UPF) are associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
French researchers said the findings, published in the journal BMJ, could be used to help re-evaluate regulations in the food industry to “protect consumers.”
They explored the health effects of some emulsifiers, which are used to preserve and add texture to packaged foods such as ice cream, margarine and ready meals.
Indeed, some scientists have suggested that these factors can affect gut bacteria and increase inflammation, which may increase the risk of heart problems.
About 95,442 French adults with no history of heart disease participated in the study, between 2009 and 2021. Their average age was 43 years, and the participating women constituted about 79% of the total.
Each diary item recorded by the participants was matched to a trademark so that the researchers could determine the presence and quantity of the additives.
Participants were also asked to report whether they had experienced a heart attack or stroke over the course of the study.
After a median follow-up period of seven years, a higher intake of cellulose E460 to E468, which is used to improve the texture of food as well as thicken it, was linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Similar affinities were found with the acidity regulator E339 and the splicing factor E472c.
Emulsifier E472b, which is used as an airing agent in pastries and cakes, has also been associated with the risk of cardiovascular disease and cerebrovascular disease.
But the team denied a relationship between the other emulsifiers studied and any cardiovascular disease outcomes.
They also acknowledged that a single observational study could not “identify cause,” but stressed that the findings needed to be replicated in other large-scale studies.
Tracey Parker, a heart health dietitian at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), said this type of study “can’t help but show an association” between high intakes of some emulsifiers and cardiovascular disease.
She added: “We need more research to properly understand this relationship.
Dr Gavin Stewart, Senior Lecturer in Evidence Synthesis at Newcastle University, said that while “the study shows a potential effect”, “cautious interpretation” was needed, and “further studies and evidence synthesis are needed to reduce uncertainty”.
The study follows two papers presented at the European Society of Cardiology conference in Amsterdam that linked UPF consumption to cardiovascular disease.
In the first research, a team from the University of Sydney studied more than 10,000 middle-aged women over 15 years and found that 39% were more likely to develop high blood pressure than women who ate the least amount of UPFs.
The second research, presented by Yang Zhou on behalf of researchers at the Fourth Military Medical University of China, found that consuming the highest amount of UPF made participants about 25% more likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke, or angina.