Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Natural Healing

Role of lactate receptor in neuronal repair after hypoxic injury revealed

10 November 2022

Natural Healing

Many of our best medical treatments are based on boosting the body’s natural capacity for recovery. So understanding the in-built responses activated during hard-to-treat conditions might point towards new approaches. Hypoxic-ischaemic brain injury is a common cause of disability in newborns that comes from a temporary block of the blood supply to the brain, and current treatments are limited to cooling babies down. Now researchers have investigated the role of lactate – produced by muscles during hard exercise when oxygen levels are low. They found that mice lacking a receptor that lactate binds to barely recovered any brain tissue following the injury, but those with the receptor enlisted the restorative action of immune cells (green in the recovering section pictured) and cell cycle to spark new brain cell growth (pink) and partly repopulate the damaged areas. Harnessing this mechanism could provide a route to improving prospects for babies with hypoxic-ischaemic brain injury.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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