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Scientists find cause of nervous system's birth defects

January 18, 2020  23:42

Protein TRPM2 plays a key role in the thermal reaction, which affects the development of the fetal brain during pregnancy, said scientists from the Institute of Zoology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

High body temperature during pregnancy, as you know, can be linked to the occurrence of neural tube defects in the fetus, which leads to congenital defects of the brain and spinal cord of varying severity. Experts haven't known what was the cause of these defects yet.

According to Xinhua, scientists found out in a new study that amid high body temperature in pregnant rats, the fetal cortex had more nerve stem cells, but fewer differentiated neurons. And TRPM2, the protein necessary for heat sensitivity, has been activated.

To study the link between TRPM2 and the development of the fetal cortex at high temperatures, the researchers suppressed TRPM2 expression to study its function. Suppression of TRPM2 at high temperatures can inhibit the growth of nerve stem cells and the development of neurons. But this had no such an effect if the body temperature of the pregnant animal remained normal.

According to scientists, the mother’s body temperature is able to regulate the development of the cerebral cortex of the fetus, and the effect on TRPM2 may help prevent birth defects.

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