Tuesday, February 14, 2006

SIDS Caused By Inability To Gasp?

The lack of "gasping" cells in the baby's brain may explain the cause of SIDS. It is already known that children who die of SIDS lack serotonin binding in areas of the brain that are critical for respiration because serotonin regulates the sodium channel in the pacemaker neurons that are crucial to iniate gasping or autoresuscitation.

They found that many different types of brain cells are necessary for normal breathing, but only a small subset of these is required for gasping or autoresuscitation. These pacemaking cells were dependent upon a unique protein that forms a tiny hole within the membrane of the cells. When oxygen levels lower this pore opens wider to allow the passage of sodium ions into the cell and provides a way in which gasping can occur automatically.

It is possible that a genetic defect in this special protein found in pacemaking cells could prevent gasping.

St.-John commented: "Our findings are exciting they demonstrate that emergency breathing, or gasping, is regulated by different mechanisms than those for normal breathing. This result explains why gasping is such a powerful mechanism for autoresuscitation.."

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