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Old 12-08-2009, 09:36 AM
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Default Protein shakes may aid brain injury

An interesting abstract from a release today by press association here in uk.........


Drinks containing a c0cktail of protein components could prove an effective treatment for mental impairment caused by brain injuries, a study has suggested. Skip related content
Related photos / videos Protein drink may aid brain injury Scientists came to the conclusion after feeding a mixture of amino acids to brain-damaged mice.

The right balance of brain chemicals was restored in the animals and their learning ability returned to normal levels. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and an essential part of the diet.

Those given to the mice in their drinking water, leucine, isoleucine and valine, are known as branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). They are vital for the creation of two brain chemicals which play a key role in the functioning of nerves.

The two neurotransmitters glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) work together to keep brain activity in balance. Glutamate excites neurons, stimulating them to fire, while GABA inhibits them. If neurons are too excited or not excited enough, the brain does not function properly. This often occurs after a traumatic brain injury (TBI) of the sort that can happen in road accidents or on the battlefield. Previous research had suggested that people with severe brain injuries showed improvements in their mental capabilities after being injected with BCAAs.

Scientists tested the effect of brain injuries on the ability of mice to remember an electric shock. A week after receiving a mild shock in a recognisable cage, normal mice tend to "freeze" when placed in the same surroundings. This is a fear response showing that they anticipate another shock after remembering what happened the first time they were in the cage.

Brain injured mice demonstrated fewer freezing responses, a sign that their learning was impaired. When the brain-injured animals were given water containing the amino acid c0cktail, their performance in the test was the same as that of normal mice.

The findings were published online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.Study leader Dr Akiva Cohen, from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in the US, said: "We have shown in an animal model that dietary intervention can restore a proper balance of neurochemicals in the injured part of the brain, and simultaneously improves cognitive performance."

Examination of slices of tissue from the hippocampus - the brain's memory centre - showed that BCAA restored the normal balance of neural activity in injured mice. Dr Cohen said if the results were reproduced in humans, patients with traumatic brain injuries could be given the amino acids in a drink.

Providing BCAAs in the diet may prove more effective than injecting them, he said. A large dose injected straight into the bloodstream could flood the brain and have a more limited effect.
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