Friday, April 27, 2007

Excitation: is it just the tip of the iceberg?

I think it is. We've always focused on excitation. After all, it's kind of natural way to think of cause and effect. It is only relatively recently that we are seeing inhibition as just as powerful a shaping force. With recent papers describing a halorhodopsin that can effectively be harnessed as a light-activated channel driving inhibition, and this new paper in Nature, describing the action of morphine as an inhibitor of GABA, and by doing so preventing glutamatergic LTP in the VTA, thus potentiating addiction from a novel angle, it is becoming clear that turning off the spigot of neurotransmitters is equally important as turning it on.

Yin, yang.

Here's an excerpt from the Nature article:

The inability of GABAergic synapses to potentiate 24 h after in vivo morphine exposure may promote LTP of glutamatergic synapses, observed as an increased AMPAR/NMDAR ratio 24 h after morphine, cocaine, amphetamine, nicotine or ethanol exposure. Repeated cocaine exposure over a period of days also gradually diminishes GABAA receptor-mediated inhibition in the VTA. Here we show that even a single morphine exposure produces a similar persistent loss of normal GABAergic function. Morphine's reinforcing and stimulant effects increase after a single dose of morphine in vivo, and also after overexpression of the AMPAR subunit GluR1 in the VTA. The loss of normal inhibitory control we observe coupled with potentiation of excitatory synapses may represent neuroadaptations that increase the incentive properties of morphine. These early adaptations may synergize to increase vulnerability to addiction during subsequent drug exposures. Moreover, GABA receptor modulators modify the abuse-related effects of addictive drugs and targeting these receptors may prove to be an effective therapeutic strategy.

Pretty cool if they're right. Any thoughts?

Nugent, Penick & Kauer. Opioids block long-term potentiation of inhibitory synapses. Nature 446, 1086-1090 (26 April 2007) | doi:10.1038/nature05726

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, April 20, 2007

Still Nothing Neuronal but this is funny.

Fuson: This just in! More breaking speculation

April 20, 2007

Anchor: We have breaking news here at MSNBCNNFOX...

(Dramatic music plays as BREAKING NEWS fills the screen.)

Anchor: We have received unconfirmed reports of a loud noise heard somewhere in the Midwest. Let's go to national correspondent Stud Beefman for the details. What happened, Stud?

Beefman: How the heck would I know? I'm in my kitchen.

Anchor: We're live, Stud. You're on the air.

Beefman: Let's review what we know and what we don't know. We know that a loud noise was heard in the Midwest. We don't know anything else.

Anchor: I've got 24 hours to fill, Stud.

Beefman: Details are sketchy, so let's speculate. A loud noise could be as innocent as a car backfiring. Or as threatening as a terrorist attack. We can't rule anything out...

(The words "Midwest Terrorist Attack?" appear on the screen.)

Beefman: We also can narrow down the location. There are several states in the Midwest. Iowa ... Nebraska ... Kansas ...

Anchor: Let me stop you right there. Are you saying that there could have been a terrorist attack in Kansas?

Beefman: I'm trying to confirm that right now.

(A tiny outline of Kansas appears in the bottom corner of the screen, with a mushroom cloud superimposed over it, along with the words, "Unconfirmed: Horror in Heartland."

Anchor: Let's turn to our terror expert, Col. Buzz Straightback (Ret.). What do you make of this?

Straightback: Disturbing. Attacks are usually confined to large population centers. As far as I know, there's nothing of importance in Kansas. Obviously, the terrorists are sending a message.

Anchor: Any thoughts on who might be responsible?

Straightback: Well, I'd hate to accuse an entire group based on no evidence, but my best guess is someone from the Middle East.

Anchor: Let's review for those of you who have just turned in. We have a report of a loud noise somewhere in the Midwest. Possibly in Kansas. Possibly a terrorist attack. A Middle Eastern group may be responsible. We now join our defense correspondent, Rip Launchpad. Rip?

Launchpad: I just talked to the sheriff in Bourbon County, Kansas. He said they are still trying to pinpoint the location of the explosion. When I asked him who could do such a thing - remember, this is unconfirmed - he replied, "Eskimos."

(The words "Why Do Eskimos Hate Us?" appear on the screen.)

Anchor: That's quite unusual. Let's bring in psychologist Dr. Sandy Serotonin, our MSNBCNNFOX consultant.

Serotonin: Dannielynn, Anna Nicole Smith's baby, will face a tremendous adjustment when her father, Larry Birkhead, takes custody.

Anchor: What about the terrorist attack?

Serotonin: Well, she's only a baby. I doubt she watches the news yet.

Anchor: Thank you. On the telephone we have Chip Inuit, president of the Eskimo Anti-Defamation Council.

Inuit: I am calling on this network to stop using the term Eskimo to describe the terrorist. This is causing great harm to my people, and...

Anchor: Excuse me, Mr. Inuit. Rip Launchpad has more breaking news.

Launchpad: I need to correct something. The Kansas sheriff apparently didn't say "Eskimo" when I asked who did this. He said, "I don't know." Sorry for the confusion, but you know what it's like to gather news on the fly.

Anchor: Mr. Inuit, you must be very relieved.

Inuit: See you in court.

(The words "Eskimos Are Our Friends" appear on the screen.)

Anchor: Let's go to Paul Potomac, our White House correspondent. Any word from the president?

Potomac: The president has issued a statement, accusing the media of ignoring all the great things that are happening in Kansas.

Anchor: Our domestic affairs reporter, Angela Prattle, has now reached Topeka. I'm told that there has been a stunning development. Angela?

Prattle: I just talked with the head of the National Weather Service. He said the loud noise was apparently a thunderclap in Lincoln, Neb. No explosion. No terrorist attack.

Anchor: Well, that's good news. We'll be back for our roundtable discussion on media ethics, right after this message.

(The question "Did the weather service fail us?" flashes on the screen.)

Reporter KEN FUSON's column runs on Friday. He can be reached at (515) 284-8501 or


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Today's news

Saturday, April 14, 2007

This is pretty funny

I was looking for an animation of the dopaminergic synapse with cocaine blocking the transporter. Instead I found this. Hehehehe.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Autoimmune pancreacaea

My wife has a hypothesis regarding many diseases that they are autoimmune-related in etiology. So, I keep my eyes peeled for stories that are related in some way. Her mom passed away some years back and proably suffered from Sjogran's Syndrome.

It seems that diabetes (type I) seems to respond to a treatment that "rebuilds" the immune system. Apparently this stops the body from attacking islet cells, and the treatment has enjoyed a remarkable success rate, at least so far. Here's the article at New Scientist.

Not long ago I read a piece about a neurological component to Type II diabetes that was also quite a novel take. Here's that one as well, from Cell.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

More than just the other white meat

A decade ago, a diabetic New Zealand man was implanted with cells from none other than baby pigs (sorry, Wilbur) in an attempt to promote ectopic expression of insulin. Not only did it seem to work for a while, but it turns out that he shows evidence of still having some of the cells, working inside him.

Check out the article in New Scientist.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Happy Easter!

No snark, no science, no politics, no social commentary, just Happy Easter!

The bunny came last night (stopped at CVS it looks like) and hid about I don't know, um 44 eggs all around the house and left a basket too. Our son was so thrilled! It was so cute watching him run around the apartment with his little straw basket in his Lightning McQueen PJs.

*Big smile*

We're going to church today. And my wife is getting baptized. She is joining what I think is a pretty cool church. They are the only Baptist church to refuse to sign this "Southern Baptist Agreement" thingie, which essentially is a proclamation against gays, lesbians, and all sorts of things. As such, they lose all sorts of funding and support. They don't care. I think that's pretty darn cool.

Oops! I said no social commentary. Sorry.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Har har

I nearly peed myself when I saw this. Click here for the story.

I actually supported this guy in 2000 when Bradley tanked and Al Gore was threatening to put the entire electorate to sleep. He seemed refreshingly honest and forthright. Man what a difference eight years of Republican hell make. Admission: I ended up voting for Nader (whom I also think is a dicktoast now.)

No, not in Florida. I'm not that crazy.

Also: my sister-in-law is marrying the woman of her dreams on March 31. Congratulations!

Labels: , ,