Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New type of nerve cell in brain. POTSers, take note... and hope

This article discusses the discovery of a new type of neuron in the hypothalamus. 

A new type of nerve cell found in the brain

This specific type of nerve cell handles cardiovascular functions, playing some sort of role in regulating heart rate and blood pressure. The cardiovascular system being the interlocked system  that it is, this presumably also includes force of heart contractions, tension of the vessels, and other autonomically-driven activities.

The autonomic part of the nervous system is supposed to be the ring-master for the automatic functions of life, everything that has an up and a down: blood pressure, heart rate, sleeping/waking, appetite and thirst, and so on. Its dysregulation in CRPS is probably one of the most stubborn problems in treating and managing this disease. Finding a type of nerve that so explicitly  handles one part of that extraordinarily complex set of inter-relating functions is fascinating enough, but the ramifications are tremendous.

Here they discuss it in terms of its relationship to the thyroid, an endocrine organ that's an important part of those regulatory mechanisms, on the chemical-messenger side. The thyroid drives the creation and balance of these types of nerves; these types of nerves then influence the output of the thyroid. It's a metabolic two-step, a mutual relationship characteristic of nearly every chemical/physical connection in the human body.

Those who have POTS and other forms of autonomically-driven cardiovascular problems might have a new cause for hope. Being able to separate out that particular set of mechanisms from the rest of the nervous system, at least to some degree, may give them a chance of managing their disease better without throwing the rest of their autonomic functions further off.

Anyone who has been that nauseously dizzy and that weak for that long would be terribly glad of the chance. This is great science, and not just for those with thyroid disorders.

"A new type of nerve cell found in the brain"
Eurekalert press release on these findings
Wikipedia on CRPS
What is dysautonomia? - with a focus on cardiovascular issues
CRPS, ANS dysfunction, and chronic vertigo