updated - November 12, 2019 Tuesday EST
Believing in the power of a chemical element for human mind's health, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory scientists have been studying about copper's role in brain. After several years, they figured out its importance even while brain is at rest.
Copper has been known as an essential chemical that assures a healthy brain. Neurological illnesses like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Menkes' and Wilson's have been, in fact, blamed because of "improper copper oxidation."
Just recently, Berkeley Lab scientist published a study that proves copper's importance for human brain. Chris Chang, Berkeley Lab's Chemical Sciences Division's faculty chemist, dubbed proper copper amount is a modulator of important neural circuits.
"Using new molecular imaging techniques, we've identified copper as a dynamic modulator of spontaneous activity of developing neural circuits, which is the baseline activity of neurons without active stimuli, kind of like when you sleep or daydream, that allows circuits to rest and adapt," Chang explained.
Though brain is relatively a small portion of a human's body, this organ is known for consuming 20 percent of the body's oxygen. Because of this, brain needs the highest level of copper, iron and zinc among other body organs.
Lead by Chang, UC Berkeley scientists probed copper's role in human brain through fluorescent probe called Copper Fluor-3 (CF3). This new science, which can be used for one- and two- photon imaging copper ions, allowed them to "explore the potential contributions to cell signaling of loosely bound forms of copper in hippocampal neurons and retinal tissue."
The result of the study, titled "Copper is an endogenous modulator of neural circuit spontaneous activity," suggests that "the mismanagement of copper in the brain that has been linked to Wilson's, Alzheimer's and other neurological disorders can also contribute to misregulation of signaling in cell-to-cell communications."
Published in the journal Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences, was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Oyster and other shellfish, nuts, whole grains, beans potatoes, and liver are some of numerous good sources of copper.
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