Learning and protecting itself: How the brain adapts

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Neuroplasticity is promoted by enzymatic digestion of the extracellular matrix (ECM) of the brain (Akol et al., 2021). This fluorescence microscopic image shows neurons in the mouse visual cortex wrapped in red-labeled ECM molecules. Upper row: low magnification, lower row: high magnification. Credit: Siegrid Löwel

The brain is a very complex and adaptable organ. However, adaptability declines with age. When new connections between nerve cells in the brain are less likely to form, the plasticity of the brain decreases. If there is damage to the central nervous system, such as after a stroke, the brain must compensate by reorganizing itself. To do this, we need to loosen a dense network of molecules between nerve cells known as the extracellular matrix. This is the work of a wide variety of enzymes that ultimately regulate the plasticity and stability of the brain. Researchers at the University of Göttingen have studied what happens when certain enzymes are blocked in mice. Suppression had the opposite effect, depending on whether the brain was healthy or ill.The results were published in Journal of Neuroscience..

Learning and recovery from injury depend on the plasticity of neuronal connections.Extracellular macromolecules matrixIs between Nerve cell, Important for plasticity. As people grow, this extracellular matrix becomes more stable, stabilizing existing connections between nerve cells and providing a foothold for integrating information. If someone experiences something new, they need to loosen the extracellular matrix so that they can form new connections.

This relationship between stability and plasticity brain Regulated in the matrix with the help of enzymes like Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP), this can be “digested” Extracellular matrix Therefore, “loose” it. In a new study, a team at the University of Göttingen was able to show that blocking matrix metalloproteinases MMP2 and MMP9 can be counterproductive depending on whether the brain is ill or healthy.

To measure neuroplasticity, scientists showed adult mice only one eye for several days and recorded the resulting changes in activity in the visual cortex of the animal. They first investigated the adaptability of the visual cortex of healthy mice in which the enzymes MMP2 and MMP9 were blocked (by SB3CT). As a result, neuronal plasticity was also blocked. In the second experiment, the team studied mice immediately after stroke. It was already known that stroke leads to a strong short-term increase in MMP. In this case, targeted short-term inhibition of the enzymes MMP2 and MMP9 produced the opposite effect. Blocking the enzymes MMP2 and MMP9 had a clear therapeutic effect, as the stroke restored the significantly reduced plasticity.

Learn and protect yourself: how the brain adapts

Neuroplasticity is promoted by enzymatic digestion of the extracellular matrix (ECM). Credit: Figure modified from Akol et al. (2021) J. Neurosci. , JN-RM-0902-21R1.

“The design of our study was different from many previous studies in that matrix-degrading enzymes were blocked only after an experimental stroke simulating treatment,” said the Department of Systems Neuroscience, University of Gettingen. Says Professor Siegrid Löwel. “It also shows that MMP in the brain needs to be closely monitored and adjusted accurately. If the level of a healthy brain is too low, neuroplasticity is impaired and the level is too high, as in post-stroke. And neuroplasticity is also blocked. ”


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For more information:
Ipek Akol et al, MMP2 and MMP9 activity are important for adult visual cortex plasticity in healthy, stroke-affected mice. Neuroscience journal (2021). DOI: 10.1523 / JNEUROSCI.0902-21.2021

Quote: Learn and protect yourself: How the brain adapts (December 14, 2021) from https: //medicalxpress.com/news/2021-12-brain-1.html to 2021 12 I got the 14th of the month

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