Do you know what epilepsy, neuropathic pain, anxiety, depression, drug addiction, and Alzheimer’s disease all have in common? If your answer has something to do with nerves, you’re on the right track. All of these issues are related to the excitability of your brain neurons. And researchers have recently discovered how changes in DNA methylation can affect excitability. This is an important breakthrough in the treatment of neurological disorders like these.
Cells use DNA methylation to control how genes are expressed. It’s vital to a number of cellular processes, including how we form and store memories, and errors in methylation can contribute to a number of diseases. But while researchers knew it was important, they weren’t sure how it contributed to neurons’ intrinsic membrane excitability (IME).
IME is a measure of how much a neuron responds to signals from other neurons. If the neuron receives a great enough stimulus, it continues to pass the message along through the neural circuit, eventually telling the brain what to have the body do. This message is passed via an electrical wave called an action potential.
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Clearly, IME is very important to brain function, so researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham decided to investigate DNA methylation’s effects on IME. They found that interrupting the DNA methylation process in rat neocortical neurons caused IME to spike, increasing the frequency of action potentials. These changes can cause the neurons to have more trouble communicating appropriately with each other.
The researchers found that these changes had to do with a part of the neurons called NMDA receptors, which are involved in weakening and strengthening neural connection synapses as well as in memory formation. Therefore, targeting NMDA receptors directly could help researchers affect IME in a therapeutic fashion in the future.
As researchers gain a better understanding of how different parts of cells interact with each other and affect the system as a whole, they’ll have a better idea of how to directly target the breakdowns that lead to diseases. As they continue to study these topics, I hope these findings help to remind you how important healthy nerve function is for your health. One small issue can cause a cascade of problems leading to a neuropsychiatric disorder.
So make sure you’re taking steps to protect your nerves, including eating right and maintaining healthy levels of stress. You also can go a step further by taking Advanced Nerve Support. This supplement will help your neurons continue to pass messages along appropriately without getting overstimulated. And it will give you antioxidant support and promote healthy circulation and energy production within the cells to give you extra reinforcement throughout your nervous system.
J. P. Meadows, M. C. Guzman-Karlsson, S. Phillips, J. A. Brown, S. K. Strange, J. D. Sweatt, J. J. Hablitz. Dynamic DNA methylation regulates neuronal intrinsic membrane excitability. Science Signaling, 2016; 9 (442): ra83 DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aaf5642.