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Vol. LXIV, No. 25
December 7, 2012
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Digest

Migraine-Associated Brain Changes Not Related to Impaired Cognition

Women with migraines did not appear to experience a decline in cognitive ability over time compared to those who didn’t have them, according to a 9-year follow-up study funded by NINDS, NIA and other institutions.
Women with migraines did not appear to experience a decline in cognitive ability over time compared to those who didn’t have them, according to a 9-year follow-up study funded by NINDS, NIA and other institutions.

Women with migraines did not appear to experience a decline in cognitive ability over time compared to those who didn’t have them, according to a 9-year follow-up study funded by NINDS, NIA and other institutions. The findings appeared in the Nov. 14 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study also showed that women with migraine had a higher likelihood of having brain changes that appeared as bright spots on magnetic resonance imaging.

“An important message from the study is that there seems no need for more aggressive treatment or prevention of attacks,” said Dr. Mark Kruit, a principal investigator and neuroradiologist from Leiden University Medical Center, The Netherlands, which led the study.

Kruit and associates evaluated MRIs for changes in the white matter, brainstem and cerebellum that appeared on the scans as bright spots known as hyperintensities. Previous studies have shown an association between such hyperintensities and risk factors for atherosclerotic disease, increased risk of stroke and cognitive decline.

Scientists Develop Treatment to Fight AutoImmune Disease in Mouse Model

In a mouse model of multiple sclerosis (MS), researchers funded by NIH have developed innovative technology to selectively inhibit the part of the immune system responsible for attacking myelin—the insulating material that encases nerve fibers and facilitates electrical communication between brain cells. Results were reported in the Nov. 18 online Nature Biotechnology.

Autoimmune disorders occur when T-cells—a type of white blood cell within the immune system—mistake the body’s own tissues for a foreign substance and attack them. Current treatment for autoimmune disorders involves the use of immunosuppressant drugs that tamp down the overall activity of the immune system. However, these medications leave patients susceptible to infections and increase their risk of cancer as the immune system’s normal ability to identify and destroy aberrant cells within the body is compromised.

Supported by NIBIB, NINDS and other institutions, researchers have come up with a novel way of repressing only the part of the immune system that causes autoimmune disorders while leaving the rest of the system intact.

The new research takes advantage of a natural safeguard employed by the body to prevent autoreactive T-cells—which recognize and have the potential to attack the body’s healthy tissues—from becoming active.

PCBs, Other Pollutants May Delay Pregnancy

Couples with high levels of PCBs and similar environmental pollutants take longer to achieve pregnancy in comparison to other couples with lower levels of the pollutants, according to a preliminary study by researchers at NIH and other institutions.

PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) are chemicals that have been used as coolants and lubricants in electrical equipment. They are part of a category of chemicals known as persistent organochlorine pollutants and include industrial chemicals and chemical byproducts as well as pesticides. In many cases, the compounds are present in soil, water and in the food chain.

The compounds are resistant to decay and may persist in the environment for decades. Some, known as persistent lipophilic organochlorine pollutants, accumulate in fatty tissues.

Another type, called perfluorochemicals, are used in clothing, furniture, adhesives, food packaging, heat-resistant non-stick cooking surfaces and the insulation of electrical wire.

Exposure to these pollutants is known to have a number of effects on human health, but their effects on human fertility—and the likelihood of couples achieving pregnancy—have not been extensively studied. The study was published online in Environmental Health Perspectives and is available at http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/2012/11/1205301/.—compiled by Carla Garnett


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