• Preventing Neuroinflammation with the Help of Chromatography

Preventing Neuroinflammation with the Help of Chromatography

Mar 23 2021

Inflammation is a normal biological process. When the body detects a foreign body or intruder, the body starts systems and processes that are there to protect us and start the healing process. Inflammation is part of the body’s response to rose thorns in the finger, virus in the lungs or irritant up the nose.

But sometimes the system can go wrong and the body can start to attack itself leading to autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes. And even the brain can get inflammation, but a team of researchers from Russia have used chromatography to discover a drug that could help reduce neuroinflammation.

Inflammation in the brain and nervous system

Neuroinflammation is a response by the brain’s innate immune system that causes inflammation in the nervous system including the brain. Researchers from RUDN University have found well-known spasmolytic drug called hymecromone can suppress the inflammatory response in astrocytes and could lead to drugs that could fight neurodegenerative conditions and Alzheimer’s disease.

Spasmolytic drugs are ones that can reduce or stop involuntary muscle spasms. Inflammation in the nervous system or brain is due to the reaction of cells including astrocytes that help to support neural activity in the brain. Astrocytes are the most numerous cell type in the central nervous system, they are involved in supplying nutrients to neurons and supporting the blood-brain barrier; their star-like shape allows them to interact with up to 2 million neurons at once.

When astrocytes become inflamed, they make anti-inflammatory molecules that can speed up and worsen the inflammatory process. Neuroinflammation almost always results in the death of nerve cells. In a paper published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, the researchers from RUDN University showed that the intensity of inflammation can be reduced using the drug hymecromone.

Chromatography spots the inflammation

The team monitored the activity of genes that regulate the production of anti-inflammatory molecules in the brains of rats.  The receptors in charge of inflammation were activated using a liposaccharide and were then treated with the drug. They then extracted RNA from astrocytes and measured the activity of the genes that regulate the production of anti-inflammatory molecules.

They used high performance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry to analyse the changes in concentrations of signal lipids (oxylipins). Advances in chromatographic analysis are discussed in the article, Fast Analysis of Biomolecules by Using Smaller and Innovative Particles. In a press release from RUDN University, Dmitry Chistyakov said: “We managed to confirm that hymecromone is a promising compound that can be used to treat neuroinflammation. The mechanisms of its anti-inflammatory activity require further studies but given that this drug is widely used in clinical practice, the possibilities of such research are vast.

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