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Brain cell death can cause stroke

Islamabad, October 08 (Online): Different triggers spark stroke, injuries, and neurodegenerative diseases, but the molecular chain of events responsible for brain cell death in these conditions are the same.

JResearch partners Dr. Ted Dawson, Ph.D., now director of the Institute for Cell Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Valina Dawson, Ph.D., professor of neurology, and their research group conducted experiments on laboratory-grown cells to determine the culprit in the event chain that ultimately causes cell death.

The new research builds on a growing body of knowledge of a distinct form of programmed brain cell death dubbed “parthanatos” by the team in earlier work to distinguish it from other types of cell death, such as apoptosis, necrosis, or autophagic death.

The research teams found that while stroke, injury, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Huntington’s disease have very different causes and symptoms, they share the brain cell death mechanism, parthanatos, and PARP, an enzyme involved in the process.

“I can’t overemphasize what an important form of cell death it is; it plays a role in almost all forms of cellular injury,” says Dr. Dawson. The combined research groups have spent years breaking down each link in the parthanatos chain of events and tracing what roles proteins play in the process.

Previous research indicated that when a protein – mitochondrial apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) – moves from its residing location in the energy-producing mitochondria of the cell to the nucleus, it causes the genome housed in the nucleus to be carved up, leading to cell death.