JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Neuroscientists at Mayo Clinic in Florida and at Aarhus University in Denmark have shed light on why neurons in the brain’s reward system can be miswired, potentially contributing to disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
They say findings from their study, published online today in Neuron, may increase the understanding of underlying causes of ADHD, potentially facilitating the development of more individualized treatment strategies.
The scientists looked at dopaminergic neurons, which regulate pleasure, motivation, reward, and cognition, and have been implicated in development of ADHD.
They uncovered a receptor system that is critical, during embryonic development, for correct wiring of the dopaminergic brain area. But they also discovered that after brain maturation, a cut in the same receptor, SorCS2, produces a two-chain receptor that induces cell death following damage to the peripheral nervous system.
The researchers report that the SorCS2 receptor functions as a molecular switch between apparently opposing effects in proBDNF. ProBDNF is a neuronal growth factor that helps select cells that are most beneficial to the nervous system, while eliminating those that are less favorable in order to create a finely tuned neuronal network.