Type of brain cell involved in stuttering identified

Posted on August 21, 2019

This loss of astrocytes, a supporting cell in the brain – was the most prominent in the corpus callosum – a part of the brain that bridges the two hemispheres. Imaging studies have identified differences in the brains of people who stutter compared to those who do not. Furthermore, some of these studies in people have revealed structural and functional problems in the brain region as the new mouse study.

This identification of genetic, molecular and cellular changes that underlie stuttering has led us to understand more about the persistent stuttering as a brain disorder. Researchers could perhaps have pinpointed the brain region and cells that are involved in opening opportunities for novel interventions for stuttering – and possibly other speech disorders.

Stuttering is characterised by its pauses and repeated/prolonged words which disrupts the normal flow of speech. People who stutter know what they want to say, but have trouble verbalising it. With researchers taking the genetic approach, they have been able to decipher the neuropathology of stuttering, first at the molecular approach level by identifying genetic mutations, and now at the cellular level.

Earlier research by Drayna and colleagues has identified several genes associated with stuttering. In this study, the researchers set out to identify changes in the brain brought on by the mutations in a gene called GNPTAB, one of the genes previously linked to stuttering. They also found that astrocytes play a critical role in supporting nerve cells by carrying out a wide range of functions, such as supplying nerve cells with oxygen and nutrients and providing structural support.

Should future research confirm that stuttering in people with GNPTAB mutations derives from a loss of astrocytes in the brain, these findings could open the door to new therapeutic strategies for some people with persistent developmental stuttering by targeting associated molecular pathways and cells.


Source material from Science Daily


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