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Bone marrow transplants cure mental illness – in mice

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... research involving bone marrow transplants in mice suggests an immune approach to treating mental illness


Scientists in the US claim to have used a bone marrow transplant to cure mental illness in a study that could have profound implications for patients with psychiatric problems.


Bone marrow transplants are routinely used to treat leukaemia and other life-threatening diseases, but have never been used to treat mental health problems.


The team, led by a Nobel prizewinning geneticist, found that experimental transplants in mice cured them of a disorder in which they groom themselves so excessively they develop bare patches of skin. The condition is similar to a disorder in which people pull their hair out, called trichotillomania.


"A lot of people are going to find it amazing," said Mario Capecchi at the University of Utah, who won the Nobel prize for medicine in 2007 for his work on mouse genetics. "That's the surprise: bone marrow can correct a behavioural defect."


.... "This finding is clearly important in directing research in new directions for OCD and OCD-spectrum disorder treatments. Given the intransigence of OCD symptoms, and the fact that roughly one third of treated OCD patients fail to make a good recovery, new treatment directions in this field are sorely needed."


More at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/may...-mental-illness


Granted there is no plan to cure mental illness with bone marrow transplants given the risk, but it's encouraging to see progress on the immune connection to mental illness regardless.

Edited by Laurensmom
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Another article on the same study.


U. study links OCD to immune system problem


SALT LAKE CITY — Research at the University of Utah may offer hope to people with obsessive compulsive disorder, according to a report published this week.


The study, led by Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Mario Capecchi, shows the first cause-and-effect link between immune system cells and mental illness, which points toward eventual new psychiatric treatments.


The research indicated that bone marrow transplants cure mutant mice that pull out their hair compulsively. Mice share more than 99 percent of the same genes with humans, Capecchi said, giving a strong indication that the findings would correlate to people with similar disorders.


"We're showing there is a direct relationship between a psychiatric disorder and the immune system," Capecchi said.



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Here is the full study intro. See the gray tabs at top to choose various sections of the report.




Note the connection to other disorders including autism, bipolar etc.


The above experiments strongly support the hypothesis that the excessive pathological grooming behavior observed in Hoxb8 mutant mice originates from defective microglia, thus directly connecting hematopoietic function to mouse behavior. The extensive role of microglia, as the brain's monitor and responder of immune activity, in the normal function of our brain is becoming increasingly apparent. As examples, immunological dysfunctions have been widely linked to many psychiatric disorders including OCD, major depression, bipolar disorder, autism, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer's disease (Ashwood et al., 2006,da Rocha et al., 2008,Kronfol and Remick, 2000,Lang et al., 2007,Leonard and Myint, 2009,Strous and Shoenfeld, 2006). In addition, results from genome-wide association studies suggest that genes whose dysfunction have been implicated in immune dysfunction and/or signaling contribute to increased susceptibility to the above mentioned mental disorders (Hounie et al., 2008,Purcell et al., 2009,Shi et al., 2009,Stefansson et al., 2009).




Microglia could affect neuronal activity and behavior by a number of mechanisms, including the secretion of cytokines that stimulate or inhibit neuronal activity, and work in parallel with neurotransmitters. Microglia have also been reported to function in regulating neuronal cell death during embryogenesis (Frade and Barde, 1998,Marin-Teva et al., 2004). Absence of appropriate cell death during neurogenesis could manifest itself later as aberrant behavior. Finally, the experiments of Wake et al., 2009 illustrating that microglia processes are very dynamic and engage in intimate contacts with synapses are particularly intriguing. They observed that the duration of contact at synapses is dependent on neuronal activity. From the above, it is becoming apparent that due to their mobility and dynamic contacts with synapses, microglia could represent an additional system for stabilizing and managing neural networks. By virtue of their high abundance in the cortex, including the frontal orbital regions and basal ganglia, the microglia of Hoxb8 lineage are positioned in close proximity to the pathways controlling repetitive behavior.


I'm fascinated by this research, sorry gang. One would think this is more evidence that PANDAS is a valid diagnosis.



Edited by Laurensmom
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