October 17, 2012

A Club Rat would fare well with a Type 1 Diabetes Dx


Researchers wanted to see if children with Type 1 diabetes (T1D) are at higher risk of developing cognitive difficulties.  Currently doctors and researchers do not have any hard science supporting the theory of arrested development in the brain at the age of T1D diagnosis.

A T1D diagnosis at any age is stressful. Stress can be a molding aspect in a young child’s life. This study explores how synapses created in the brain at the time of T1D onset influence the neuronal pathway for learning differently than someone without diabetes.

Although this study was conducted on rats, there was a clear difference between the development of connections in the hippocampus for memory and emotions between rats with T1D and the control group. T1D had an inhibitory effect on development in the receptors influencing the right-brain (the emotional brain).

Forgive me for the alphabet soup but it will help explain the findings. The  AMPA ceptors are important memory receptors in the brain. AMPA influences the left brain (logic). The NMDA receptors are also important in the role of learning and memory. NMDA receptors influence the right brain (creativity). The left brain and the right brain connections working together are referred to as the EPSC (the AMPA/NMDA ratio).

The EPSC was decreased in the brains of new onset T1D rats compared to the control group. However, the instance of long-term depression (LTD) improved when the NMDA receptors were stimulated. This imbalance might lead one to believe that most T1Ds are heavy on logic and light on creativity. I plead the fifth.

The Role of NMDA agonist drugs in a clinical setting is intended to encourage neuroplasticity in the brain. They are a specific class of drug to counteract the stressful event of T1D diagnosis. This allows neurons in the brain to compensate for injury and adjust their responses to changes in their environment.

Some NMDA receptor antagonists drugs are quite popular club drugs. Ketamine, or “Vitamin K”, “Special K”, or “K2” is one of them. Other dissociative drugs include: PCP, nitrous oxide, and DXM. Ecstasy is not included in this class of drugs that antagonize the NMDA receptors.

Have you seen Molly? Apparently not but those lab rats are raving their tails-off in the name of science.

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