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Ohio State University
Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF)
Stimulates Sensitive Brain Neurons
Causes Possibly Fatal "Nausea"
The Lantern - Ohio State University
Josiah L. Robinson
Updated 12:00 PM ET November 15, 2000
(U-WIRE) COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The
human brain has been
a mystery for those who try to understand it. It ultimately
controls all functions of the human body such as reflexes,
the heart, thoughts and feelings.
A new study conducted at Ohio State University reports that
the human brain may also be responsible for nausea.
"This (the brain) is one of the most investigative fields in medicine,"
said Richard Rogers, professor of neuroscience for the College
Rogers, along with colleagues Gerlinda Hermann, research assistant
professor of neuroscience, and Greg Emch, OSU graduate student
in neuroscience, have found that a chemical produced by the immune
system directly stimulates the part of the brain controlling digestion.
Tumor necrosis factor
(TNF), may be the link connecting the
immune, brain and digestive systems to produce the perception
of illness in the body. TNF has also been associated with anorexia,
vomiting and gastrointestinal stasis.
Rogers' study explains the relationship between
the brain and the
Thousands and thousands of people are affected, he said those
most susceptible to the release of TNF are people with HIV, Lupus
and others. From the common cold to severe cancer, the chemical
TNF can create the feeling of nausea.
"It really degrades their quality of life.
It can actually be
Rogers said. This system is the activation of a immune function.
Cells in the system are then activated and coordination of the attack
is controlled by the release of the hormone TNF.
By using research and data found 10 years ago, Rogers and his
colleagues have found that the brain stem may actually be the
"Neurons are extremely sensitive," he said.
According to Rogers, prior to the first hint of
illness, the immune
system readies itself for attack by sending out the hormone TNF.
Earlier studies conducted by Rogers and his colleagues found that
TNF suppresses movement of food through the stomach and acts
directly upon neurons in the part of the brain stem called the
nucleus of the solitary tract (NST).
The researchers showed that when TNF acts on NST neurons, they
cause the stomach to stop a digestion condition called "stasis." The
dramatic stomach relaxation is perceived as nausea.
Rogers, Hermann and Emch, published their work in September
issue of the American Journal of Physiology, Gastrointestinal
and Liver Physiology.
(C) 2000 The Lantern via U-WIRE
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