Posts Tagged Neuropsychology and Neurology
Posted by psychieblogger in 3 Fatty Acids, American Chemical Society, Chemical Compounds, Chemistry Institute, Chocolate Blueberries, Cognitive Health, Common Foods, Depakene, Depression, Dietary Recommendations, Drug Molecules, Flavor Components, Manic Depressive Disorder, Mental Alertness, Mood Effects, Mood Enhancers, Mood Modulators, Mood Swings, National Autonomous University, National Autonomous University Of Mexico, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Pines Institute, Psychology, Research, Specific Foods, Stress, Striking Similarity, Valproic Acid on August 19, 2012
New research reveals that some common foods enhance moods with a striking similarity to valproic acid, a widely used prescription mood-stabilizing drug.
“Molecules in chocolate, a variety of berries and foods containing omega-3 fatty acids have shown positive effects on mood. In turn, our studies show that some commonly used flavor components are structurally similar to valproic acid,” said Karina Martinez-Mayorga, Ph.D., leader of the research team, which presented its findings at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.
Valproic acid, which is sold under brand names such as Depakene, Depakote and Stavzor, is used to smooth out the mood swings of people with manic-depressive disorder and related conditions, she said.
“The large body of evidence that chemicals in chocolate, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, teas and certain foods could well be mood-enhancers encourages the search for other mood modulators in food,” she added.
While people have recognized the mood-altering properties of food for years, Martinez-Mayorga’s team is looking to identify the chemical compounds that moderate mood swings, help maintain cognitive health, improve mental alertness and delay the onset of memory loss.
Her study involved the use of techniques associated with chemoinformatics ― the application of informatic methods to solve chemical problems ― to screen the chemical structures of more than 1,700 food ingredients for similarities to antidepressant drugs and other agents with reported antidepressant activity.
She noted her team plans to move from analyzing the database to actually testing the flavor/mood hypothesis experimentally. The end result may be dietary recommendations or new nutritional supplements with beneficial mood effects, she said.
“It is important to remember that just eating foods that may improve mood is not a substitute for prescribed antidepressive drugs,” Martinez-Mayorga cautioned.
She added that eating specific foods and living a healthful lifestyle can generally boost moods for people who don’t require medication.
Karina Martinez-Mayorga, Ph.D., who described research done while working at the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, is now with the Chemistry Institute at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
Source: The American Chemical Society
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Mental disabilities stemming from Fragile X and Down syndrome involve similar molecular pathways, according to a new study published in The EMBO Journal.
Both disorders are characterized by problems with the processes that regulate the way nerve cells develop dendritic spines—the small protrusions on the surface of nerve cells that are vital for communication in the brain.
“We have shown for the first time that some of the proteins altered in Fragile X and Down syndromes are common molecular triggers of intellectual disability in both disorders,” said Kyung-Tai Min, a professor at Indiana University and the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology in Korea.
“Specifically, two proteins interact with each other in a way that limits the formation of spines or protrusions on the surface of dendrites.”
“These outgrowths of the cell are essential for the formation of new contacts with other nerve cells and for the successful transmission of nerve signals. When the spines are impaired, information transfer is impeded and mental retardation takes hold,” he said.
Two of the most common genetic causes of intellectual disability are Fragile X and Down syndromes.
Fragile X syndrome is triggered by a single gene mutation that prevents the production of a protein needed for proper neural development (Fragile X mental retardation protein). For Down syndrome to occur, all or a part of a third copy of chromosome 21 must be present.
Although each syndrome is due to a separate genetic difference, the researchers identified a shared molecular pathway in mice that triggers intellectual disability in both disorders.
Down syndrome mice models have difficulties with memory and brain function, and the development of the heart is often compromised, symptoms that are also observed in humans with Down syndrome.
“We believe these experiments provide an important step forward in understanding the multiple roles of DSCR1 in neurons and in identifying a molecular interaction that is closely linked to intellectual disability for both syndromes,” said Min.
Source: The EMBO Journal