Tag Archives: Cell (biology)

Addiction: A Neuroplasticity Disease

Addiction: A Neuroplasticity Disease

Had an accident or stroke? Developed amnesia? Lost consciousness for some reason? Well maybe not you. You may be wondering however how a friend or neighbor is recovering from such incidences of short or long term memory losses. Well thanks to technology now we know the brain has a way to self-regenerate in its functions through a process called neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity and Addiction Defined

Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to adjust to new environments or needs by developing new nerve cells throughout the body. it is the brain’s way of recovery. neuroplasticity allows the cells to compensate for any injuries or diseases in the nerve system. It also allows the neurons reorganize themselves to perform new functions of the brain depending on changes in their working environment.

One of the most common mechanisms in neuroplasticity is axonal sprouting. This is the process whereby active axons develop new nerve endings to connect with those their links were severed. Inversely, the damaged one can also grow new nerve endings to reconnect to the active neurons. Neuroplasticity is a term derived from the words; “neuron” and “plasticity”. A neuron is a nerve cell of the brain. Plasticity on the other hand means ability to remold. The process is at times referred to as brain malleability. Other times it is simply called brain plasticity.

Addiction on the other hand is an intricate condition of the brain, usually categorized as a disease that involves reward and motivation cerebral systems structurally and chemically altered. It is a mental condition characterized by a compulsive urge to indulge in rewarding stimuli despite possible dire consequences. Addiction is both reinforcing and rewarding. It manifests itself in the form of repetitive, intrinsic behavior including; gambling, food, exercises, shopping and substance abuse.


Influence of Neuroplasticity on Addiction

At one time Aristotle said: “We are what we repeatedly do.” Even though the Greek coined the phrase in the context to advice his readers of making a habit of excellence, the great philosopher had his brain develop a pathway around his successes over time. See, that is what the brain does. It creates a path of neurons to support our habits. A weight lifter for instance develops stronger muscles as a result of repetitive action. Similarly the brain may develop a path around addiction.

Once such pathways are created, addiction takes control of the brain. Eventually the addiction becomes the only thing that matters to the addict. Once the addiction hijacks the brain’s centers of pleasure it becomes the only thing that brings the addict a sense of joy or happiness. Soon his/her brain recognizes more of the addiction and less of other socio economic aspects of life including: friends, relatives, family, responsibilities, and work among other normal forms of social interactions and activities.

Neuroplasticity on Addiction Treatment

For a long time detoxification has been used as a treatment mechanism against addiction. This is the removal of the substance of abuse from the body. Victims however fell back on to substance abuse shortly afterwards. The billion dollar question then was how this still happened sometimes way after the victim’s blood had been cleaned of the same. This was one very interesting aspect of scientific state of quandary.

It is however through neuroplasticity scientists discovered treatment of an addiction needed more than mere detoxification. The brain actually needed to be retrained back to its normal functions. It required an intensive psychotherapy among other medical interventions to remold the recovery process. Also, it required an intense psychotherapy to reconfigure the brain’s recognition of what initially seemed normal and of the person as a whole especially in terms of behavior change. The nerve cells needed to rebuild a connection along initial, rather former normal pathways.


Neuroplasticity and Drug Abstinence

The process, neuroplasticity however does not take away the addictive neuron pathways like probably in the case of severe brain damage usually by accidents. It only retrains the brain to develop new ones along the old clean pathways. It is therefore often advisable to abstain from drugs completely during recovery. This is so as to avoid reinforcing the addictive path.

It is the same case each time you reread your favorite novel. You might have read it last twenty years ago. And you could have forgotten a few characters already. However if you picked that same book today you would remember a lot more, the story would begin to unfold in your sub conscience mind even without rereading the whole story yet again. You would remember the chapters more clearly, vividly the characters, deeply their roles and or attributes without going into it a whole other time.

Relationship between neuroplasticity and addiction is not a simple support of addictive habit and recovery alone. It is an inter-disciplinary connection of varied other fields; computer technology, anthropology, and psychology among others. Want to learn more on this? This year’s August integrative addiction medicine conferences could just be the answer you are looking for. Click on: http://www.integrativeaddiction2015.com and sign up for the upcoming event where you will have a chance to meet various medical experts, and listen to speakers on the neuroplasticity and integrative addiction recovery.

Addiction: A Neuroplasticity Disease


How addiction affects the brains chemistry on communication

How addiction affects the brains chemistry on communication: Why it is necessary to protect the brain

How addiction affects the brains chemistry on communication

How addiction affects the brains chemistry on communication is one fact that cannot be ignored if any meaningful treatment is to be offered

Communication is very important in human life and it is the key to proper management of human systems whether the system is a group of family members, colleagues at work or in any other set up including as an individual. The body is actually no different and in fact in the absent of good communication our bodies will not function well. It will interest you to note that the brain is responsible for proper communication. Therefore if we want to understand addiction’s effect on the brain chemistry, it will be very important that we first appreciate how communication works. That is why we want to focus on the discussion of how addiction affects the brains chemistry on communication. We are going to rely on the expert opinion from doctor Dalal Akoury MD and founder of AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center. According to the experts at this facility, all the five senses e.g. sight, smell, taste, sound and touch will collect and transmit information about our environment. On receipt the brain will process and analyze this information. It must be noted that even though the brain performs this huge task of processing and analyzing information, it does so by relying on simple electrochemical process for communication.

The brain’s communication system permits specific areas of the brain to rapidly interact with other brain regions. The brain achieves this communication through a vast, interconnected, network of specialized cells called neurons. Our brains have billions of these neuronal connections. These neuronal connections form the foundation for an electro-chemical communication system.

How addiction affects the brains chemistry on communication: Addiction Changes the Brain’s Chemistry

The composition of the brain is such that it has several sections or regions with each performing a distinctive role. All these sections communicate to each other for proper functionality of their specific roles. And besides the sections, the brain also must communicate to the rest of the body to coordinates the body’s systems like the digestive, cardiovascular and respiratory system among others. This can be illustrated well by taking the example of sports men and women. They must communicate to one another and coordinate as a team. That’s why the brain communication system is crucial for our health, well-being and the overall functioning. It is no wonder that when this communication system is altered, we are affected greatly. Doctor Akoury says that we are able to cope because the brain communication system is changing periodically and adapting to the new environments well. This way we are able to learn, remember and make adjustments to our changing circumstances. Drugs can easily alters this communication systems and therefore it is only fair that we appreciate how this communication system works so that we can understand some of the defining characteristics of addiction which may include cravings, withdrawals, compulsions, and the continued use of addictive substances and activities despite harmful consequences.

How addiction affects the brains chemistry on communication: The neurons

The neuron is the primary unit of communication within the brain. A single neuron is extremely tiny. Experts are estimating that there are over 100 billion neurons in the human brain. With that you can imagine just how complex and distinct your brain is from the person next to you. And because good communication is of two ways where we both listen (receive information) and at the same time we also speak (send information). The same is applicable to the brain’s communication system with the neurons having the ability to both send and receive communication signals. The dendrite is the portion of a neuron that typically receives information (listens) while the axon is portion of the neuron that sends out information (speaks).

Therefore when humans communicate with each other, we typically use words and gestures. The different parts of the brain communicate with each other using electrical signals. Neurons use electrical pulses to send their communication signals. These electrical impulses are called action potentials. When a neuron fires, the action potential travels down the neuron’s axon where it ends. At the end of the axon is the axon terminal or pre-synapse. In this area, special chemical messengers called neurotransmitters and neuromodulators lay in wait. These are stored in specialized capsules called vesicles. The action potential causes the release of these chemical messengers into an open space between one neuron’s axon and the next neurons’ dendrites. This open space is the synaptic cleft. At the other side of the synaptic cleft is the post synapse that is formed by the dendrites of connecting neurons. In the post synapse, there are special receptors that receive the neurotransmitters.

Receptors and neurotransmitters function in a way that is similar to a keyhole and key. Receptors are like keyholes and neurotransmitters are like the keys. When neurotransmitters fit into the receptors it is called binding. Once a neurotransmitter is bound to a receptor, the key turns the lock. Once the lock opens, it communicates with the receiving neuron’s dendrites. In the post synapse, there may be many different receptors (many different shaped keyholes). However, a particular neurotransmitter may be able to fit into (bind to) several different receptors types. This is similar to the way a single key can open several different locks. The particular receptor type determines the type of signal that is transmitted. Thus, the receptor type is often more critical to the communication than the particular neurotransmitter.

It may be easiest to visualize this communication as a single chain of events: First, a neuron sends an electrical impulse (action potential) down the axon. Next, the electrical impulse causes chemicals (neurotransmitters and neuromodulators) to be released into the space between two neurons. Then these chemicals can signal the next neuron to send an electrical impulse and so on. This electro-chemical process forms the brain’s communication system. In conclusion, it is evident that the functions of the brain in communication are very sensitive and any alteration caused by drugs addiction can have far reaching effects. Therefore before we get there, we must do all it takes to prevent or correct as soon as it is necessary. For this reason it will be prudent for you to schedule for an appointment with doctor Dalal Akoury today for the commencement of your addiction recovery process. This is very important more so if the most sensitive organ of the body is involved. So waste no time and make that call now.

How addiction affects the brains chemistry on communication: Why it is necessary to protect the brain



Fetal Cells: Enhanced Efficiency And Effectiveness For Wound Healing.

Fetal Cells: Enhanced Efficiency And Effectiveness For Wound Healing

“Extensive burns and full thickness skin wounds can be devastating to patients, even when treated. There are an estimated 500,000 burns treated in the United States each year. The overall mortality rate for burn injury was 4.9 % between 1998 and 2007 and medical costs for burn treatments approach $2 billion per year,” Owan TE, Hodge D.O., Herges R.M, et al. (2006).

These statistics could as well be over 11 million injuries per year as claimed by some medical reports. Other than burns, full-thickness chronic wounds also claims a large number of patients and despite technological development of therapeutic approaches, healing rates remain way below 50 % of success.

Patients with the non-healing chronic wounds are as well estimated at about 7 million per year in the US alone. Yearly costs on the other hand continue to rise, the figure is currently approaching $25 billion. Patient survival is reportedly inversely proportional to the amount of time required to recover from such a chronic wound and to stabilize.


Those with severe burns of between or more than 15–20 % total their body surface area are also likely to go into shock without rapid treatment. In addition, without sufficient and or rapid fluid resuscitation, patient conditions deteriorate and mortality rates increase steeply.

Inadequate therapeutic programs often result in long-term patient complications including open wounds, prominent scars, prolonged pain, high temperature sensitivity, loss of feeling to touch and or itching.

Patients who suffer from such burns and or chronic wounds benefit from prompt treatments that result in appropriate closure and or protection of the wounds. Burn patients in particular, who receive delayed treatments, are usually subject to prolonged therapeutic care that has long-term negative physiological side effects.

Recent medical advancements have been made to handle wound healing; however, the generally accepted and practiced treatment approach still remains an autologous split-thickness skin graft. This involves extracting a piece of skin with the goal of removing stem cells from a minor surgical site on the patient’s body, stretching the skin, and re-applying the graft on the burn or chronic wound.

Stem cells are unspecialized cells in the body that majorly bear two specific characteristics. They have the capacity to replicate themselves indefinitely and have the ability to replace and or repair nearly all body tissues as directed.

Stem cells extracted from the amniotic fluid, (AFS) are reportedly a very rich cell source for use in regenerative therapy due to their high proliferation capacity, immune-modulatory activity and multipotency.

AFS also have the capacity to modulate inflammatory responses and secrete therapeutic cytokines. Because of these characteristics, AFS cells have been explored for treatments in wound healing and skin regeneration among similar therapeutic care.

These attempts have over time been backed by relevant scientific studies that increasingly indicate AFS cells are effective in accelerating healing of skin in embryonic environments and more recently in treating wounds in adults. More scientific evidence also points to the fact delivered cells are often temporary, that is, do not permanently integrate into final skin tissue.

Instead, they hide a portfolio of effective growth factors very vital to the skin regeneration and angiogenesis, suggesting a trophic ability of enhancing skin and or wound healing.

These initial pieces of scientific studies suggest delivery of AFS cells have the potential to be an effective cell treatment for enabling wound healing and should be considered for clinical trials and use in treating skin wounds in patients.

While this treatment indicates the ability to yield a reasonably good therapeutic outcome, if the wound is extensive, the number and size of donor sites may be limited, making autographs difficult to use in cases that require rapid and or aggressive measures to save the wounded patient’s life.

Alternatively, allografts may be used but the option suffers a critical need of immuno-suppressive drugs so as to prevent body immune rejection of the graft. This limitation has thus caused the creation of noncellular dermal substitutes, which most often comprises a polymeric scaffold.

They include skin regeneration template and Biobrane among others. Even though such polymeric scaffolds result in improved wound healing, they are costly to produce and more often result in relatively poor temporary outcomes.

Recent developments in tissue engineering have also led to more complex biological skin parallels that may yield more suitable alternative wound care options for patients. These include: cellularized graft-like products such as dermagraft, Apligraf (Organogenesis), and TransCyte, (Advanced BioHealing) among others.

The products are commonly polymer scaffold patches that are planted with human fibroblasts and cultured in vitro prior to their application. Unfortunately, these grafts are also expensive to produce, and as allografts, can suffer from the same immunological setbacks mentioned earlier.

Intergrative addiction Conference

This topic can go on and on. It is actually very interesting but it would not be possible to include everything in one article. However more information can be found at www.awaremednetwork.com. Dr. Dalal Akoury M.D., M.P.H., who is also a family physician and has many years of experience in integrative medicine will be of great assistance.

Also, do not miss an opportunity to learn and interact with various professionals during this year’s Integrative Addiction. For more information about the upcoming conference, visit http://www.integrativeaddiction2015.com. The conference will also deliver unique approaches to telling symptoms of addiction and how to assist patients of addiction.

Fetal Cells: Enhanced Efficiency And Effectiveness For Wound Healing.


Endothelial Progenitor Cells For Injured Tissue Repair

Endothelial Progenitor Cells Role on Injured Tissue

Endothelial Progenitor cellsThe endothelial progenitor cells are sourced from the bone marrow and have been found to have the ability to proliferate and differentiate in mature endothelial cells. However, these cells are not only sourced from the bone marrow alone but can also be found in large proportions in non-marrow sources like spleen which particularly has been found to be rich in EPCs. Isolated spleen-derived mononuclear cells, pre-selected with an endothelial cell medium, demonstrated endothelial cell characteristics and formed tubular-like structures. There are hopes that these cells can be used to sufficiently improve re-endothelialization and lessen neointima formation after carotid artery injury. In a trial, intravenous transfusion of spleen-derived EPCs in splenectomized mice showed special homing to the injured area. However, these results were only achieved when the host organ was removed. Thereafter, it was suggested that removal of the spleen prolonged the EPC time in circulation, which may result in a change of surface markers on the cell because of homing signals of the injury site thus favoring recruitment to the ischemic area rather than preferential homing to the organ of origin. With researchers still working to establish the mechanism with which the EPCs repair damaged tissues; there is hope that these cells can be useful in treatment of injured tissues.

Apart from the crucial role of maintaining the cardiovascular homeostasis that the vascular endothelial cells play, they also provide a physical barrier between the vessel wall and lumen. The endothelium also secretes a number of mediators that regulate platelet aggregation, coagulation, fibrinolysis, and vascular tone. However crucial functions the endothelium plays, it may lose its physiological properties and hence termed endothelial dysfunction. Incase this occurs it will not be able to promote vasodilation, fibrinolysis, and anti-aggregation as it normally does to ensure sound vascular health. Endothelial cells secrete several mediators that can alternatively mediate either vasoconstriction, such as endothelin-1 and thromboxane A2, or vasodilation, such as nitric oxide (NO), prostacyclin, and endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor. Nitric oxide is the chief contributor to endothelium-dependent relaxation in conduit arteries; however the contribution of endothelium-derived hyperpolarizing factor predominates in smaller resistance vessels.

Restores endothelial functions

The endothelial progenitor cells are essential as they are immature but with the ability of differentiating into mature endothelial cells and hence may help restore the endothelial functions in case of injuries that may result in endothelial dysfunction. The release of growth factors and cytokines may cause vascular injury and tissue ischemia which will in turn mobilize endothelial progenitor Cells which will specifically home in on the ischemic sites to stimulate compensatory angiogenesis once in the peripheral circulation.

Furthermore, endothelial progenitor cells forms part of a pool of cells able to form a cellular patch at sites of endothelial injury, thus working directly to achieve the homeostasis and repair of the endothelial layer. Endothelial progenitor cells have now been identified to be playing a major role in cardiovascular biology, as a matter of fact, the extent of the circulating EPC pool is now considered a mirror of cardiovascular health. Practically all risk factors for atherosclerosis have been linked to declining population of circulating endothelial progenitor cells or their dysfunction. The increase in population of the circulating endothelial progenitor cells have been linked to decreased cardiovascular mortality.

Endothelial progenitor cellsOne of the common diseases of the cardiovascular is atherosclerosis which is characterized by leucocyte infiltration, smooth muscle cell accumulation, and neointima formation. Basically atherosclerosis is a cardiovascular inflammatory disease. It has been shown that the activation and damage of the endothelial layer is what causes the development of lesions. Recent studies have disputed an earlier notion that the adjacent intact endothelium replaces the damaged endothelial cells. These studies have demonstrated the recruitment and incorporation of vascular progenitor cells into atherosclerotic lesions and thus providing evidence in support of the role of vascular cells in the development of the disease. The incorporation of endothelial progenitor cells into mice showed promising results. In a model of transplant atherosclerosis, regenerated endothelial cells from arterial grafts were found to originate from recipient circulating blood but not the remaining endothelial cells of the donor vessels. It was also found that the endothelial monolayer in a vein graft three days after surgery was completely lost and later replaced by circulating endothelial progenitors.

The endothelial progenitor cells are able to mediate vascular repair and attenuate the progression of this disease even when there is a continued vascular injury. treatment of chronic injuries have been done with endothelial progenitor cells in mice in trials , however the mechanism involved is still a mystery but it is clear that these EPCs contribute a big deal to the restoration of the injured endothelial layer. In one example, intravenous infusion of spleen-derived mononuclear cells increases endothelium-dependent vasodilatation in atherosclerotic mice, signifying that progenitor cells play an important role in repairing the vascular injury.

Finally, for more information about bone marrow transplant and stem cell transplantation, visit www.awaremednetwork.com. Dr. Dalal Akoury has been practicing integrative medicine for years; she will be able to help. You can also visit http://www.integrativeaddiction2015.com and learn more about the upcoming Integrative Addiction Conference 2015. The conference will deliver unique approaches to telling symptoms of addiction and how to assist patients of addiction.

Endothelial Progenitor Cells Role on Injured Tissue



Unique Properties of Stem Cells

What Are The Unique Properties Of All Stem Cells?

Stem CellsThe stem cells have been hailed for their efficacy in treatment of certain diseases especially those that are degenerative in nature like the Parkinson’s disease, osteoarthritis and even the Huntington’s disease. To accomplish all its medicinal capabilities the stem cells must have certain properties that are not present in other body cells. They therefore differ from other cells in the body. The stem cells are available majorly in the bone marrows and the adipose tissues but can also be harvested from placentas after a safe delivery. The stem cells have three general properties regardless of their source. These properties are; they are capable of dividing and renewing themselves for long periods; they are unspecialized; and they can give rise to specialized cell types. It is these distinct characteristics of the stem cells that make them effective in treatment of degenerative diseases.

The other cells found in the body like the nerve cells, the muscle cells and the blood cells are not able to replicate themselves unlike the stem cells that are able to proliferate after long periods of time. Typically, a starting population of stem cells that proliferates for many months in the laboratory can yield millions of cells. What is more is that the daughter cells are capable of long term self-renewal giving rise to more unspecialized cells.

Despite the vast research that has been done on the stem cells and their ability to treat certain diseases there are some information that are still required which we can only hope that researchers will one day find an answer to. These questions are as follows:

  • Scientists are trying to understand two fundamental properties of stem cells that relate to their long-term self-renewal:
  • Why can embryonic stem cells proliferate for a year or more in the laboratory without differentiating, but most adult stem cells cannot; and
  • What are the factors in living organisms that normally regulate stem cell proliferation and self-renewal?

When these answers are addressed there will be a valid explanation to how cell proliferation is regulated during normal embryonic development or during the abnormal cell division that leads to cancer. Such information would also enable scientists to grow embryonic and non-embryonic stem cells more efficiently in the laboratory to help in treatment of diseases.

The stem cells are unspecialized

Stem cells remain unspecialized even after long hours in the laboratory after getting harvested. The scientists have spent years of research trying to find out factors that make the stem cells unspecialized and differentiating into different cell types. It took two decades to learn how to grow human embryonic stem cells in the laboratory following the development of conditions for growing mouse stem cells. In a similar manner the scientists must first understand the signals that enable adult stem cell population to proliferate and remain unspecialized before they will be able to grow large numbers of unspecialized adult stem cells in the laboratory for medicinal use.

The stem cells are not specialized and hence are not able to perform specific functions. Unlike heart muscle cells, the stem cells are not able to pump blood through the body, they can neither carry oxygen molecules through the bloodstream like red blood cells nor can they kill pathogens like the white blood cells but they can give rise to more of all these cells; they can form bone, heart muscle cells, blood cells and even nerve cells. So they are then unspecialized cells that have the unique ability to give rise to specialized and more vital functional specialized cells.

Stem cellsThe process through which undifferentiated stem cells give rise to specialized cells is known as differentiation. It is through this process of differentiation that the stem cells become even more specialized. Scientists are just beginning to understand the signals inside and outside cells that trigger each step of the differentiation process. The internal signals are controlled by a cell’s genes, which are interspersed across long strands of DNA and carry coded instructions for all cellular structures and functions. In contrast, the external signals for cell differentiation include chemicals secreted by other cells, physical contact with neighboring cells, and certain molecules in the microenvironment. The interaction of signals during differentiation causes the cell’s DNA to acquire epigenetic marks that restrict DNA expression in the cell and can be passed on through cell division giving rise to more specialized cells.

There are however some questions that should be addressed and these may include; Are the internal and external signals for cell differentiation similar for all kinds of stem cells? Can specific sets of signals be identified that promote differentiation into specific cell types? Finding answers to these questions may help scientists to find new ways to control stem cell differentiation in the laboratory, thereby growing cells or tissues that can be used for specific purposes such as cell-based therapies or drug screening.

Integrative Addiction Conference 2015

With these distinct characteristics of the stem cells especially their ability to give rise to different specialized cell types, the stem cells are a cutting edge to treatment of diseases. Degenerative diseases have debilitated many people but it is treatable. Dr. Dalal Akoury (MD) is an expert in integrative medicine and a founder of AWAREmed Health and Wellness Center located at Myrtle Beach South Caroline. Visit her for more information on most lifestyle diseases.

What Are The Unique Properties Of All Stem Cells?