A photo of a human brain taken by a positron emission tomography scanner.Image: Fred TANNEAU/ AFP (Getty Images)Even after we die, a few of our brain cells can experience one last and big short-lived burst of life, new research out Tuesday suggests. The research study found proof that particular “zombie genes” in our brain cells are active more often right after death, which triggers some cells to tremendously expand for hours. The findings wont radically change our ideas of life and death, but they may hold some crucial ramifications for studying brain tissue taken post-mortem. Its no trick that our cells can survive and function for a while even after were clinically dead, prior to finally flickering out. Though nearly every cell brings the same hereditary info as the next, various types of cells express this hereditary details in a different way, with numerous genes being turned on or off. And when the researchers took a look at the gene expression of different cells inside a “passing away brain,” they found some distinct patterns.For their study, published in Scientific Reports on Tuesday, the team took a look at samples of brain tissue contributed by clients who had actually just recently gone through brain surgery for epilepsy (surgical treatments can safely remove parts of the brain involved in the seizure condition). They then mimicked the procedure of brain death by excluding the newly eliminated samples at room temperature level for numerous time periods, for approximately 24 hours. All the while, the team was gathering information on the cellular and hereditary activity of these cells.In a majority of the genes they studied, characterized as “housekeeping genes” that maintain basic cellular function, they discovered that the genes stayed at the exact same level of activity for the whole 24 hour duration. In the “neuronal” genes, genes that are turned on in the nerve cell cells responsible for brain functions like thought and memory, their activity began to drop after 12 hours.Images of the glial cells “post-death” as they broadened in size and developed new growths. Image: Jeffrey Loeb/UICG/O Media may get a commissionBut in a 3rd group of genes, linked to the function of glial cells– the immune and support group of the brain– gene expression really increased after “death” and continued to increase approximately 24 hours later on. The glial cells themselves also expanded enormously in size and even grew new “arms,” at the exact same time as the nerve cells in these samples were degenerating.The results do not prove that zombies are theoretically possible, and its not even truly a huge surprise that glial cells are specifically active post-death. The cells are most likely reacting to the injury and swelling thats going on in the brain when its deprived of oxygen after someones final moments. The findings do present a potential wrinkle for how a lot of human brain research study is carried out, according to the authors, considering that many research studies rely on post-mortem evaluations of the brain.”Most research studies assume that whatever in the brain stops when the heart stops beating, however this is not so,” stated study author Jeffrey Loeb, head of neurology and rehabilitation at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, in a declaration launched by the university. “Our findings will be required to translate research on human brain tissues. We just havent measured these changes until now.”One problem is that research study into conditions like Alzheimers disease and other types of dementia is typically based on post-mortem brain samples that are collected 12 or more hours after death. If the findings here stand, then much of these research studies might be missing essential clues left inside passing away cells that might go missing out on later. Loeb and his group hope studies going forward can much better represent the changes that happen in a dying brain. A prospective option, for example, might be to gather brain samples for research even earlier post-mortem or to rely more greatly on samples from prepared clients who are getting brain surgical treatment anyway. “The excellent news from our findings is that we now know which genes and cell types are stable, which deteriorate, and which increase with time so that results from postmortem brain research studies can be much better comprehended,” Loeb stated.
An image of a human brain taken by a positron emission tomography scanner.Image: Fred TANNEAU/ AFP (Getty Images)Even after we die, some of our brain cells can experience one last and large momentary burst of life, brand-new research study out Tuesday suggests. And when the scientists looked at the gene expression of different cells inside a “passing away brain,” they discovered some unique patterns.For their research study, released in Scientific Reports on Tuesday, the group looked at samples of brain tissue donated by patients who had just recently undergone brain surgical treatment for epilepsy (surgical treatments can safely eliminate parts of the brain included in the seizure condition). The findings do present a potential wrinkle for how a lot of human brain research is conducted, according to the authors, given that lots of studies rely on post-mortem examinations of the brain. A prospective service, for circumstances, may be to collect brain samples for research study even quicker post-mortem or to rely more heavily on samples from willing clients who are getting brain surgical treatment anyhow.