Antioxidants also protect against inflammation in brain
It is well known that the antioxidants protect brain against oxidative stress and thus ameliorate brain dysfunction due to myriad causes. Little known fact is that antioxidants also protect nervous tissue indirectly by inhibiting inflammation of glial cells in the brain.
Glial cells have also been called the Forgotten Brain Cell. Glial cells actually vastly outnumber the classic nerve cells or neurons. While much of research related to brain disorders has focussed on neurons, increasing attention is now being drawn to functioning of glial cells
What are glial cells
Glial cells are a group of complex supporting cells and unlike the nerve cells or neurons are not involved in neural conduction.
- What are the functions of glial cells
- Glial cells insulate the adjoining neurons from one another. Glial cells also perform the housekeeping cleaning function of the brain. In fact they are critical for optimal function
of neurons and thus the brain.
- According to Andrew Koob, author of the book, “The Root of Thought”, glial cells are involved in the brain processing and the imagination function.
- Dr. Hughes calls microglia the “constant gardeners”
Glial cells and inflammation in brain
- Brain inflammation is typical for many neurodegenerative diseases.
- While optimal mmune response to any insult or injury in brain is critical for a healthy brain, an inappropriate response or an over-reaction damges the normal brain tissue.
- Glial cells get activated by the slightest of the insults in brain including infection, trauma, toxins, nutritional deficiency, or decreased blood supply etc. that may occur as a result of confluence of genetic and environmental elements.
- Activated glial cells produce mediators of inflammation.
Glial cell related neuroinflammation in neurodegenerative diseases
- Typically, immune system is protective, however, overactivation causes damage
to the brain.
- Inflammation-immune reaction are seen in many neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's, Parkinsons disease etc.
- Multiple studies have documented abnormalities of glial cells especially microglia.
- In addition to typical inflammatory cells, activated microglia are also evident along with pro-inflammatory neurochemicals.
Glial cell involvement in neurobehavioral dysfunction like autism
- Studies of PET Scans of subjects with autism show an enhanced activation of microglia as compared to controls.
- Dr. Maezawa and colleagues from the University of California in Davis, CA argue that microglia respond to environmental provocation during pregnancy as well as early childhood by altering the expression of genes (epigenetics) resulting in abnormal activity of neuronal synapses based on the
- Glial dysfunction related to genetic and epigenetic factors can adversely affect the growth and developmental trajectory with or without inducing evoking inflammation.
- There appears to be a decreased glial density in brain of subjects with ADHD on imaging studies and suboptimal supply of energy from glial cells has been implicated in the variability in behaviour and the underlying neuronal activity of children with ADHD.
Above factors suggest that glial cell dysfunction may be involved in neurobehavioral disorders like autism and ADHD/ADD.
Dual role for antioxidants in neuroprotection inlcuding antiinflammatory action
Antioxidants may thus not only protect brain against oxidative stress but also indirectly by inhibiting oxidant/antioxidant imbalance induced neuroinflammation. Beause of multiple redundant metabolic pathways involved in neuroinflammation, a cocktail of antioxidants rather than a single antioxidant may offer the best chance for neuroprotection.
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