Hypoxic-ischemic brain injury (HIE) is a kind of brain dysfunction that results from decreased oxygen or cerebral blood flow to the brain and is the leading cause of death or disability in newborns.
According to the National Institute of Health, HIE is a severe birth complication in which forty to sixty percent of affected babies either die by the age of two or are left with severe disabilities.
This is because the lack of nutrients and blood flow causes brain cells to perish– resulting in neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy.
However, researchers from the University of Oslo and Oslo University Hospital in Norway believe they have made a groundbreaking discovery that can inform the future treatment of babies affected by HIE.
The study, which has since been published in eLife, experimented with a protein receptor known as HCAR1 on mice.
Receptors are able to trigger responses within cells, and HCAR1, in particular, was shown to help repair the brain damage caused by HIE.
The researchers first divided newborn mice into two groups. Then, they removed the HCAR1 gene from one cohort while leaving the other “normal” mice as a control group.
Interestingly, the study found that the control group mice’s brain tissue was partly restored within forty-two days following the onset of brain damage.
On the other hand, the brains of mice without HCAR1 showed little to no repair.