Brain Acidity Linked To Multiple Neurological Disorders
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Brain Acidity Linked With Multiple Neurological Disorders

Scientists have recently uncovered a link between metabolism problems in the brain and a range of neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders, including autism, Alzheimer’s, depression, schizophrenia, epilepsy, bipolar disorder, and intellectual disability.

Despite the wide array of symptoms these conditions can manifest, they all involve a degree of cognitive impairment and also share metabolic features; two factors that strongly suggest common biological traits.

In a large collaboration, conducted by the International Brain pH Project Consortium, which involved 131 scientists from 105 labs in seven different countries, researchers were able to identify changes in animal brain acidity and lactate levels as key indicators of this metabolic dysfunction.

“We previously demonstrated that such alterations are commonly observed in five mouse models of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism. However, there is still limited research on this phenomenon in animal models, leaving its generality across other disease animal models uncertain.” the paper noted.

The findings are hoped to lead to new methods of diagnosing and treating rare diseases and other complex disorders that, while rare, still affect up to 300 million people worldwide.

Lactate changes can impact how effectively neurons transfer information because it can disrupt the balance between excitatory and inhibitory brain networks. An increase in these lactate levels can cause a lower pH in the brain, which the finding suggests is another common factor among these disorders.

When examining whole brain samples of animal models of mice, rats, and chicks, approx. 30 percent of the 2,294 animals over 109 different models, all displayed significant changes in lactate levels and pH.  Researchers believe that this indicates various genetic or environmental factors that might cause factors such as inflammation, which in turn may influence brain metabolism and contribute to the development of neuropsychiatric conditions.

Depression, Epilepsy, And Alzheimer’s Linked With Higher Brain Acidity

Large-scale study uncovers altered brain pH and lactate levels as a transdiagnostic endophenotype of neuropsychiatric disorders involving cognitive impairment.

First author Hideo Hagihara, a medical scientist at Fujita Health University in Japan, said:

“This is the first and largest systematic study evaluating brain pH and lactate levels across a range of animal models for neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders,”

Brain Acidity Linked With Multiple Neurological Disorders

Diverse responses were seen when analyzing autism models. Some showed an increase in pH and a decrease in lactate levels, while others showed the opposite. Researchers believe this could hint at the fact that there are various subgroups of metabolic dysfunction among individuals with autism.

When conducting behavioral tests, researchers found a strong link between high lactate levels and impaired memory performance. They suggest that this shows that metabolic dysfunctions could directly impact cognitive abilities in these neuropsychiatric disorders.

Mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with several neuropsychiatric disorders that cause memory deficits as a common symptom. Mitochondrial dysfunction in neurons is theorized to lead to less lactate consumption for energy production and thus may also impair learning and memory functions.

Overall, the study authors claim the results clearly show that changes in brain pH and lactate levels could be utilized as biological markers for neuropsychiatric disorders that cause cognitive impairment.

Masayuki Matsushita, a molecular and cellular physiologist from the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan, said:

“Future studies will center on uncovering treatment strategies that are effective across diverse animal models with brain pH changes. This could significantly contribute to developing tailored treatments for patient subgroups characterized by specific alterations in brain energy metabolism.”

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