Their interactions allow them to regulate electrical and chemical activity inside the human brain, which means that both of them need to function at full capacity in order for the cortex to work properly.
According to investigators, it may be that developing drugs capable of acting on these mechanisms is the next big step in addressing conditions such as stroke and epilepsy, among others.
The team conducted the new research on unsuspecting lab rats, but they say that the same type of interactions are at play in the human brain as well. The rodents are generally used as proxies for humans in such lab experiments.
“We now have novel targets for therapeutic intervention for a range of neurological and cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, epilepsy, dementia, hypertension, mental illness and others,” says scientist Mark S. Shapiro, PhD..
“This study should guide clinicians and pharmaceutical companies in developing new therapies against mental, neurological, cardiovascular or cerebrovascular diseases that afflict many millions of people,” the researcher goes on to say.
"Shapiro, who was the senior author of a new paper detailing the findings, holds an appointment as a professor of physiology at the Health Science Center,” Science Blog reports.
Details of the research were published in the January 7 issue of the esteemed scientific Journal of Biological Chemistry. The work details the connections the team found between phosphoinositide kinases and calcium ions.
These molecules are signaling enzymes that were evidenced to play a large role in regulating the chemical and electrical activity of rats' brains. Shapiro explains that steady calcium concentration levels are absolutely essential for the brain to work.
Another important factor is calcium transport, which also needs to operate at optimal levels at all times. If these two conditions are met, then neurobiological functions will work properly.
The conditions Shapiro mentioned tend to develop when imbalances appear in one of these two mechanisms, the research group adds. When intracellular calcium ions reached high levels, for example, epilepsy seizures appear.
What happens during such an instance is that the normal regulation patterns of neural activity breaks down, and the cortex cannot deal with this in any other way.