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Four brain studies that could explain parts of the ME story


Senior Member

Neuronal activity shapes the development of astrocytes https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/04/230426210457.htm

"Altogether, the findings suggest that astrocyte development and function involve a complex pattern of events and proteins triggered by the activity of neurons and that operate in a region-specific manner."

If the local amounts of GABA, or the numbers of certain proteins in the astrocytes are a bit off, it would likely affect the astrocyte processes, affecting synapses and myelin and other neural functions. Is it possible that that would lead to brainfog and lethargy? Might it affect how astrocytes respond to cytokines in the bloodstream, leading to triggering the ME state? Their study found different responses in cortex and olafactory bulbs, which doesn't rule out further region-specific variations, which could partly explain why ME results in different symptoms in individuals.

Immune system sculpts rat brains during development https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/04/230426210436.htm

"Researchers have identified the mechanism for why and how one brain region differs in size between male and female rats. The study found that immune system cells in the brains of females consume and digest neurons to sculp a region of the brain during development and that later affects behavioral preferences in adulthood."

ME has sexual differentiation. Here's a possibility for explaining why, since I believe ME's core mechanism is in the brain. This study was about microglia removing neurons, but since neurons help develop astrocytes, what happens when the neurons are pruned away partway through the astrocyte development process? Might those astrocytes be more likely to take part in ME triggering?

New research sheds light on how circadian rhythms work https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/04/230426210428.htm

This one is just another piece in the puzzle of how molecules work together to make out internal clocks run. Someday it will probably be part of an explanation of why/how ME messes up the circadian rhythm and why time of day affects ME severity.

Study links nutrients, brain structure, cognition in healthy aging https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2023/04/230425205326.htm

This one found an association (not sure whether cause or effect) between memory and brain region size and several fatty acids. For proper brain function, a lot of different mechanisms in the body are involved in turning food into the right amounts of each molecular building block delivered to the right destination. So many ways for things to go wrong, and even slightly wrong could lead to being stuck in the ME state, or to PEM or poor sleep.