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Compulsive behavior in mice cured by bone marrow transplant

Compulsive behavior in mice cured by bone marrow transplant

ScienceDaily (2010-05-27) — Scientists earlier found that mice missing one of a group of core developmental genes known as the Hox genes developed an odd and rather unexpected pathology: the mutant animals groomed themselves compulsively to the point that they were removing their own hair and leaving self-inflicted open sores on their skin.

A study which advances the broadening of the purported role of microglia in the brain. The traditional(ancient) view is that microglia are little more than sweepers of the nervous system, keeping synapses tidy, however, contributing nothing to animal behavior. Yet, they so vastly outnumber the grey matter- the typical neuronal cell that most of us associate with the functional activity in the brain, that it is quite remarkable to consider that they have nothing to contribute to animal behavior. This study lends support to the assertion that the actions of glia certainly have consequences for the behavior of animals at large. Basically, in mice which have had the function of the gene Hoxb8 disrupted, an obvious behavioral phenotype of excessive grooming resulted. This gene has an important developmental role in the microglial cell type, which is why the conclusion has been made that glia and their function have direct implications and consequences for the behavior of animals. It makes some sense in retrospect, that a cell normally classified as having an immune function, is associated here with behavior that promotes hygiene and reduces the risk of pathogens on an animal. This result perhaps isn’t SO remarkably surprising, but it is! The researchers found that they could “fix” the obsessive compulsive grooming mice by giving them a bone marrow transplant. The mechanism they understand to be at play involves the migration of normal functioning microglia to the brain of the mice which allows for the promotion of a healthier dose of grooming, a dose that removes all signs of hair loss and facial scarring in the animal pre transplant.

Check out the press release.

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