July 07, 2008

New Insight Into SIDS

There is a hopeful article at Nature News:
"SIDS is the label for unexplained deaths in babies less than one year old, and is the leading cause of death in infants aged 1–12 months in the developed world.
In a new study published in Science1, researchers changed the control of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, in the mice. Serotonin is important in the autonomic nervous system, which controls unconscious functions such as heart beat and digestion. The engineered mice showed symptoms that mirror human SIDS: sudden drops in heart rate and frequent deaths in early life. The majority of them died before reaching three months of age.
Cornelius Gross and colleagues at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, in Monterotondo, Italy, created mice with excess levels of the serotonin 1A receptor (Htr1a). Htr1a is like a thermostat for serotonin levels — when the receptor binds serotonin, it dampens serotonin production, keeping levels from getting too high.
The mice sporadically went into crisis, heart rates dropped and body temperatures plunged."Approximately half were fatal. These are stunning data, in the sense that there are data obtained from infants who subsequently died of SIDS who showed changes in heart rate like this.
The Htr1a mice come closer than other models but are still an imperfect match. They continue to die after reaching sexual maturity, whereas the human condition is limited to infants. In addition, male mice are not more likely to succumb, as male infants are."

I am interested in serotinin levels for reasons of my own as an adult. Reading this article reminds me that we are all members of the human existence in this galaxy. Some of us are entering the world with an expectation of a long life of continual change, and some of us are closer to the separation from this life. However long we are here has to be sufficient because that is how long we have been given. Some sweet babies bring about change and influence human destiny more than someone who lives in this world a very long time.

No comments: