Science  09 Sep 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6048, pp. 1365

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  1. Homing In on Hydrocephalus

    Hydrocephalus, an accumulation of fluid in the brain, strikes one in 1500 newborns and can lead to a lifetime of neurological problems. For decades, doctors have known that hydrocephalus typically develops after brain bleeds, but they weren't sure how one led to the other. Now new research has pin-pointed a link: A lipid common in blood. When injected at high levels into embryonic mice—just as might happen during a brain bleed—it caused hydrocephalus. Giving animals a compound that stopped the lipid, which is called lysophosphatidic acid (LPA), from binding to its receptors prevented the condition.

    The researchers, led by Jerold Chun and Yun Yung at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, California, suggest that a flood of LPA from a brain bleed profoundly disrupts the developing brain, particularly the neural progenitor cells. This changes the structure of certain parts of the brain, just as is seen in hydrocephalus. They published the work this week in Science Translational Medicine.