AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 26, Number 4, 2017

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How Blows to the Head Cause Numerous Small Swellings Along the Length of Neuronal Axons

Researchers from The Ohio State University have discovered how blows to the head cause numerous small swellings along the length of neuronal axons. The study, “Polarity of varicosity initiation in central neuron mechanosensation,” observes the swelling process in live cultured neurons and could lead to new ways of limiting the symptoms associated with concussive brain injuries. Mild traumatic brain injuries, or concussions, cause a variety of temporary symptoms, including headache, nausea and memory loss. But the effects of concussive impacts on neurons in the brain are poorly understood. One such effect is the development of “axonal varicosities,” small, bead-like swellings that appear along the length of neuronal axons, which are the parts of neurons that transmit electrical and chemical signals to neighboring nerve cells. Similar swellings are seen in the degenerating axons of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s patients.

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