Pinpointing changes to brain tissue using scanning technologies can help doctors diagnose brain damage and disease. But being able to diagnose disorders such as schizophrenia or Alzheimer’s disease with a finger prick of blood would be simpler and quicker. Scientists looking for blood biomarkers that signal problems in the brain are homing in on several candidates. One of them, S100B (labelled here in red and yellow), is produced inside brain cells called oligodendrocytes (green), which are found in large numbers in the corpus callosum – an area of white matter that resembles a sandwich filling between the two brain lobes. Tiny amounts of the protein are enough to help nerves grow, but too much, and inflammation can develop. New research shows that high S100B levels in blood can indicate brain damage, offering doctors hope of a new diagnostic tool for brain disorders, to ensure patients get treatment as quickly as possible.
Written by Caroline Cross
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.