Decoding the Brain’s “Low Fuel” Signal

The human body is an efficient model to explore the popular theory of supply and demand.  When you physically exert yourself, your bioenergetic “supply” is down, so you feel hungrier as your system “demands” more food.  In much the same way, the neurons in your brain are busy firing action potentials, and their bioenergetic fuel quickly gets used up.  So, how do these neurons signal that they need more energy?Continue reading

FAST-MAG in the ER

For those of you unfamiliar with cerebral vascular accidents (a.k.a. stroke), stroke is a major cause of death and disability in the United States, acting as the number three cause of medical mortality and the number one cause of permanent disability. The National Institutes of Health predicts more than 750,000 Americans will suffer a symptomatic stroke this year (that’s about 1 every 42 seconds). As a medical resident specializing in emergency medicine, strokes are something we come in contact with every day and the treatment is often challenging.Continue reading

From Neurons to Astrocytes: The Shift of Focus in Stroke

If you think about it, blood vessels are the freeways of the body. The vast array of vasculature enables molecules to reach important destinations (organs) quickly. But, if a small part of the freeway is blocked suddenly, then the constant flow of traffic suffers and previously desired exits now become inaccessible. When such a traffic jam occurs inside a blood vessel en route to the brain, the brain region previously receiving blood and oxygen is now devoid of it. Such a phenomenon where a blood clot obstructs blood flow to a part of the brain is called ischemic stroke.Continue reading