We've updated our Privacy Policy to make it clearer how we use your personal data.

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. You can read our Cookie Policy here.

Advertisement
Vitamin Derivative Makes for a More Plastic Brain
News

Vitamin Derivative Makes for a More Plastic Brain

Vitamin Derivative Makes for a More Plastic Brain
News

Vitamin Derivative Makes for a More Plastic Brain

Colorized 3D reconstruction of dendrites. Credit: The Center for Sleep and Consciousness, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Read time:
 

Want a FREE PDF version of This News Story?

Complete the form below and we will email you a PDF version of "Vitamin Derivative Makes for a More Plastic Brain"

First Name*
Last Name*
Email Address*
Country*
Company Type*
Job Function*
Would you like to receive further email communication from Technology Networks?

Technology Networks Ltd. needs the contact information you provide to us to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For information on how to unsubscribe, as well as our privacy practices and commitment to protecting your privacy, check out our Privacy Policy

The brain has an enormous capacity to adapt to its environment. This ability to continuously learn and form new memories thanks to its malleability, is known as brain plasticity. One of the most important mechanisms behind brain plasticity is the change in both the structure and function of synapses, the points of contact between neurons where communication happens. These sites of synaptic contact occur through microscopic protrusions on the branches of neurons, called dendritic spines. Dendritic spines are very dynamic, changing their shape and size in response to stimuli.

Previous studies have shown that alterations in synaptic plasticity occur in various animal models of brain diseases. However, it remains unclear whether human cortical neurons express synaptic plasticity similarly to those in the rodent brain. Recently, a derivative of vitamin A has been linked to synaptic plasticity. In addition, several studies have evaluated the effects of this derivative in patients with cognitive dysfunctions, including Alzheimer’s disease, Fragile X syndrome, and depression. However, there is no direct experimental evidence for synaptic plasticity in the adult human cerebral cortex related to vitamin A signaling and metabolism.

To investigate this, Lenz et al. used human cortical slices prepared from neurosurgical resections and treated them with a solution of the vitamin A derivative all-trans retinoic acid for 6-10 hours. Lenz et al. employed a variety of techniques, including patch-clamp recordings to measure neuron function as well as different types of microscopy to evaluate structural changes in dendritic spines. These experiments demonstrated that the derivative promoted the synaptic plasticity in the adult human cortex. Specifically, it increased the size of the dendritic spines and strengthened their ability to transmit signals. In addition, Lenz et al. found that the spine apparatus organelle – a structure found in some dendritic spines – was a target of the vitamin A derivative and promoted synaptic plasticity.

These findings advance the understanding of the pathways through which vitamin A derivatives affect synaptic plasticity, which may aide the development of new therapeutic strategies for brain diseases. More generally, the results contribute to the identification of key mechanisms of synaptic plasticity in the adult human brain.

Reference:

Lenz M, Kruse P, Eichler A, et al. All-trans retinoic acid induces synaptic plasticity in human cortical neurons. Elife. 2021;10. doi:10.7554/eLife.63026

This article has been republished from the following materials. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.

Advertisement