Zombie genes stimulate brain cells to grow after death

Cara Murez
Health Day reporter

New research shows that Friday, March 26, 2021 (Health Day News)-When people die, certain cells in the brain will continue to operate for several hours, or even become more active and grow to a huge proportion.

Recognition of this kind of activity inspired by “zombie genes” may influence research on diseases that affect human life. brain.

In this study, researchers used fresh brain tissue collected during routine surgery to analyze gene expression and found that in some cells, gene expression increased after death. The researchers observed that inflammatory glial cells grew and grew arm-like appendages within hours of death.

Corresponding author Dr. Jeffrey Loeb said: “Most studies assume that when the heart stops beating, everything in the brain will stop, but this is not the case.” He is a neurologist at the University of Illinois Chicago School of Medicine. And Dean of the Department of Rehabilitation.

According to Yourgenome.org, gene expression is the process of converting instructions in DNA into instructions for making proteins or other molecules.

carry on

Loeb said at the university press conference: “Given that glial cells are inflammatory and clear the work after brain damage (such as hypoxia or stroke) after death, the growth of glial cells after death is not Surprisingly.”

He added that this is of great significance.

Most studies that use human brain tissue to find treatments and potential treatments after death (such as autism, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer’s disease) fail to account for sustained gene expression or cell activity.

Loeb said: “Explaining the study of human brain tissue will require our findings.” “Until now we have not quantified these changes.”

Loeb is the head of UI NeuroRepository, which is a bank that can store brain tissues of patients with neurological diseases with consent. Collect and store tissues after the patient’s death or during surgery. Not all tissues need to be diagnosed, so certain tissues can be used for research.

Loeb and his team noticed that the gene expression patterns in fresh brain tissue did not match any published gene expression findings in tissues analyzed after death.

Therefore, they conducted simulation experiments to study the expression of all human genes after death up to 24 hours.

carry on

About 80% of the analyzed genes remained relatively stable within 24 hours. These include genes that provide basic cellular functions. Another group of genes involved in brain activity (such as memory, thinking, and seizure activity) is rapidly degraded within hours after death.

As other genes slowed down, the third group of genes-“zombie genes” became more active. These changes peaked at 12 hours.

Loeb said these findings mean that researchers need to consider these changes and minimize the time between death and research to limit the magnitude of these changes.

He said: “The good news from our findings is that we now know which genes and cell types are stable, which will degrade, and which will increase over time, so that we can better understand death. The results of post-brain research.”

The survey results were published in the magazine on March 23 Scientific report.

More information

The “Healthy Brain Project” of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more to do Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia.

Source: University of Illinois at Chicago, press release, March 23, 2021

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