Mitochondria have a social-life!

The discoveries about mitochondria continue to grow.

A while back, it became clear that many neurodegenerative diseases, especially Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, resulted from the cell batteries, the mitochondria, failing to properly power up the cell. This results in the cell being unable to do its job, for example making dopamine. It also results in the early death of the cell.

In 2019 came the stunning news that mitochondria are nomadic. They pop out of cells, plunge into the bloodstream and whizz around, then get out, metaphorically towel themselves dry and pop back into a different cell – possibly in a completely different part of the body.

This ability raised the question of what controls the mitochondrial migration. There must be some signalling system making this happen. One has visions of King Mito barking out orders to mitochondrial minions, who scurry around with their clipboards and spreadsheets…

The signalling system is the next big thing for scientists to understand. It offers vast opportunities for potential treatments and prevention strategies.

Now comes the news that mitochondria act like social creatures. The cosy up to each other, fuse together, split apart, and appear to communicate with each other. Absolutely fascinating!

Here’s a link to a wonderful article in Qantamagazine. It describes very beautifully the implication of a review paper by Martin Picard and Carmen Sandi, who were the first to describe this new feature of mitochondrial behaviour.

Reference:

Martin Picard, Carmen Sandi,The social nature of mitochondria: Implications for human health,
Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Volume 120,
2021,Pages 595-610,ISSN 0149-7634,
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2020.04.017.

Wavelengths

I had an interesting query today regarding the penetration of red and near infrared light into the body.

Question:

Does the penetration of red and near infrared light increase as the wavelength increases?

Answer:

Alas, no. The human body isn’t going to make life that easy for us!

Penetration studies have shown that 810 nanometres (written as 810nm) has the best ability to penetrate through the skin and into the body tissues.

There are some wavelengths in the red and near infrared spectrum that hardly penetrate at all, while others are better. 810nm is the best.

810nm is in the near infrared range. Because it is at the very edge of our ability to see, an 810nm light looks very pale.

Visible red 670nm is pretty good, but not as good as 810nm. However, when the 670nm wavelength reaches the cell, it is highly efficient at getting the cell batteries (mitochondria) to recharge and kickstart the cell.

Thanks To Steve Harvey on Unsplash for the great photo from Nottingham.

LED strips vs individual LEDs

I’ve had a query about LED strips and individual LED lights. Both have their place.

I want to buy a light hat:

If you are thinking of investing hundreds of dollars into a commercial transcranial red and near infrared light device, make sure that you select a device made with individual LED lights.

Continue reading “LED strips vs individual LEDs”

Exercise and sleep in Alzheimer’s

The previous blog looked at a journal article entitled: Effects of exercise on sleep in neurodegenerative disease, and focussed on its comments about sleep, exercise and Parkinson’s disease. This post looks at what the article has to say about exercise, sleep and Alzheimer’s disease.

Continue reading “Exercise and sleep in Alzheimer’s”

Exercise and sleep in Parkinson’s

Hot off the research press is a journal article with a self-explanatory title: Effects of exercise on sleep in neurodegenerative disease.

It starts by summarising the main things that affect sleep in people with Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases as being:

  1. damage to the sleep-wake system in the brain, that affects the circadian rhythm and disrupts normal sleeping and waking patterns; and
  2. “secondary mechanisms” which include a raft of things like medication side effects, having to get up to the toilet during the night, poor sleep “hygiene”, sleep-related breathing disorders, and the environment in which you try to sleep.
Continue reading “Exercise and sleep in Parkinson’s”