Interesting research from the University of Rochester suggests that, in brain inflammation, routine nerve impulses involved with learning and memory can suddenly become harmful. From the press release:
In laboratory studies, brain cells and slices were exposed to platelet-activating factor, or PAF, a compound that promotes inflammation and plays many roles in the brain. It can be produced by neurons and takes part in the working of synapses, including activity associated with learning and remembering. It also is produced by immune cells during inflammation. The amount of PAF in the brain increases dramatically in HIV-1-associated dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.
“We found that disease makes dendrites more vulnerable to excitotoxicity,” said Matthew J. Bellizzi, a researcher and student in the M.D./Ph.D. program at the Medical Center and corresponding author of the Journal article. “We also found that damage to the dendrites may not require abnormal glutamate exposure.”
The lab studies showed that elevated levels of PAF promoted beading on dendrites and injury to synapses following bursts of synaptic activity similar to those thought to be involved in learning and memory.
It’s really better to avoid thinking about this.
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