Chronic migraines affect the lives of approximately 32 million Americans. Research is currently focused on investigating the relationship between electrical activity and the innate immune system in causing the progression of migraine. In 1944, Aristides Leao recognized a spreading electrical depression which traveled 3 mm/min through a rabbit brain. This directly corresponds to the rate at which a migraine aura moves across the visual cortex. Current investigations have confirmed that spreading depression leads to the release of cytokines that induce an inflammatory response (Malenka 2002). The cytokine TNF-alpha is known to induce the release of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the brain. Oligodendrocytes are particularly susceptible to ROS damage. In the present study, it was hypothesized that TNF-alpha release causes alterations in myelin integrity leading to impaired neuronal communication. Changes in myelin content were analyzed using immunohistochemistry, western blotting, and electronmicrograph (EM) imaging on rat hippocampal slice cultures. It was determined that there is decreased myelin basic protein in cultures following spreading depression. Furthermore, EM images revealed that the decreased myelin basic protein content is due to a decreased integrity of myelin.
Neal Klauer, ’12
Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Sponsor: Craig Tepper