Magazine article USA TODAY

Infections Linked to Later Behavioral Problems

Magazine article USA TODAY

Infections Linked to Later Behavioral Problems

Article excerpt

Researchers exploring the link between newborn infections and later behavior and movement problems have found that inflammation n the brain keeps cells from accessing iron that they need to perform a critical role n brain development.

Specific cells in the brain need iron to produce the white matter that ensures efficient communication among cells in the central nervous system. White matter refers to white-colored bundles of myelin, a protective coating on the axons that project from the main body of a brain cell.

"What's important is that the timing of the inflammation during brain development switches the brain's gears from development to trying to deal with inflammation," says senior author Jonathan Godbout, associate professor of neuroscience at Ohio State University, Columbus. "The consequence of that is this abnormal iron storage by neurons that limits access of iron to the rest of the brain."

The cells that need iron during this critical period of development are called oligodendrocytes, which produce myelin and wrap it around axons. Neonatal infect on causes neurons to increase their storage of iron which deprives iron from oligodendrocytes. …

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