It's in your head: The brain's own globin defends you from shock and stroke

Oct 31, 2006

The next generation of treatments for shock or stroke could be based on a protein that is already in our heads – neuroglobin. In a review article to be published in the November issue of The FASEB Journal, scientists from University of Rome describe this protein, which may be the key to unlocking new therapies to minimize brain damage and improve recoveries for patients.

The Italian researchers suggest that neuroglobin is involved in the brain's response to oxygen deprivation and plays a protective role against brain damage. Structurally similar to hemoglobin (blood) and myoglobin (skeletal muscle), neuroglobin is found in neurons and is most prevalent in areas of the brain that have adapted to physiological stress, such as stroke.

Unlike hemoglobin or myoglobin, however, neuroglobin's primary function does not appear to involve transporting oxygen. Instead, the authors suggest that neuroglobin is more likely to usher in nitric oxide to protect neuron survival and recovery in areas where oxygen supply is reduced.

"Understanding that our brains have a hemoglobin-like molecule in our head that protects and helps restore function in the brain is an important step toward helping people who experience strokes or similar problems," said Gerald Weissmann, MD, Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. "Hemoglobin carries oxygen to all the body; neuroglobin defends our brain when it needs air. This article provides the first analysis of this exciting finding in brain research."

Source: Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Explore further: Muscular dystrophy: Repair the muscles, not the genetic defect

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New evidence ties gene to Alzheimer's

May 06, 2009

Of dozens of candidates potentially involved in increasing a person's risk for the most common type of Alzheimer's disease that affects more than 5 million Americans over the age of 65, one gene that keeps grabbing Johns ...

Recommended for you

Cellular protein may be key to longevity

9 hours ago

Researchers have found that levels of a regulatory protein called ATF4, and the corresponding levels of the molecules whose expression it controls, are elevated in the livers of mice exposed to multiple interventions ...

Gut bacteria tire out T cells

12 hours ago

Leaky intestines may cripple bacteria-fighting immune cells in patients with a rare hereditary disease, according to a study by researchers in Lausanne, Switzerland. The study, published in The Journal of Experimental Me ...

T-bet tackles hepatitis

12 hours ago

A single protein may tip the balance between ridding the body of a dangerous virus and enduring life-long chronic infection, according to a report appearing in The Journal of Experimental Medicine.

User comments : 0