Associate Professor Johanne Ege Rynholm and Research Associate Lauritz Kennedy. Author: Kyrre Vigestad, UiO

The most common cause of death or disability in newborns is the so-called hypoxic-ischemic brain injury. This occurs when the supply of blood and oxygen to the brain is blocked for a period of time.

“Lack of blood and nutrients leads to the death of brain cells. These babies may suffer from neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy“, says researcher and associate professor Johanne Ege Rynholm.

Rynholm and her team from the Institute of Basic Medical Sciences at the University of Oslo and Oslo University Hospital made a promising discovery regarding the future treatment of these children. In a study recently published in eLifethey describe their experiments with a receptor called HCAR1 mice. A receptor is a protein that causes a response inside a cell. Their results show that the HCAR1 receptor helps repair brain damage.

Mice lacking the HCAR1 gene produce few new cells after brain damage

The researchers used a group of newborn mice in which the HCAR1 gene had been deleted and another control group of “normal” mice.

“While brain tissue in “normal” mice was partially restored within 42 days of brain injury, the brains of HCAR1-null mice showed no signs of recovery. In addition, we found that mice in the control group produced new cells that could help repair damaged areas of their brains. In contrast, mice lacking HCAR1 showed little cell regeneration,” explain researchers Lauritz Kennedy and Emilie Rylund Glesaen.

Scientists need to find out if they can achieve a similar effect in humans

According to Rynholm, their data suggest that HCAR1 is an important factor in the recovery of brain tissue after hypoxic-ischemic injury in neonatal mice.

The treatment currently used for humans is to refrigerate the children.

“However, many of these children continue to suffer for a long time brain damage. Therefore, new drugs are needed that can protect the brain and help create new brain cells,” says Rynholm.

She stresses that further research is needed to see if HCAR1 has similar beneficial effects in humans.

Lactic acid provides cells with energy and works with the HCAR1 gene

Scientists were interested in studying the receptor because of its association with lactic acid. Lactic acid, or its less acidic form lactate, is produced by your muscles during strenuous exercise. But lactate is also produced in the brain.

“Experiments in mice show that injections of extra lactate can improve rehabilitation after traumatic brain injury. But the reason for this was still unclear. Much like sugar, lactate can provide cells with metabolic energy. But recent studies show that lactate can also function as a signaling molecule that helps transmit information from the environment to cells or between cells. This happens when lactate binds to the HCAR1 receptor that we investigated. However, the positive role played by HCAR1 in Art the brain was not well understood,” says Rynholm.

Stem cell therapy offers new hope to repair brain damage in newborns

Additional information:
Lauritz Kennedy and others. Lactate receptor HCAR1 regulates neurogenesis and microglial activation after neonatal hypoxia-ischemia, eLife (2022). DOI: 10.7554/eLife.76451

Information about the magazine:

Citation: Discovery of gene that may reduce brain damage in newborns (16 Aug 2022) Retrieved 16 Aug 2022 from

This document is subject to copyright. Except in good faith for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for informational purposes only.

Previous articleFlorence Pugh and Zach Braff are splitting up
Next articleSteamboat Springs, CO man kills bear inside home