By Taipei Medical University – January 25, 2019
Associate Professor Dr. Jihwan Myung has discovered the circadian clock in the body is actually located in the choroid plexus, not the previously recognized suprachiasmatic nucleus.
This discovery using a mice model not only challenges past understandings but also was affirmed by a top international journal, Nature Communications. In the future, this research can be applied to treatments for stroke, asthma, sleep disorders and other diseases.
Nature Communications is currently the world 3rd ranked natural science journal behind Nature andScience. The journal covers biology, physics, chemistry and earth sciences, publishing articles that are important in these fields.
Dr. Jihwan Myung says that the choroid plexus was known to be the main structure producing cerebrospinal fluid over a century ago. The new research shows that the choroid plexus has a key role in neural development in both embryos and adults. It is also potentially a key factor in removal of metabolites from the brain, which may help provide treatment options for Alzheimer’s disease. The choroid plexus is the main source of growth factor for cerebral cells. These new findings show that the choroid plexus is an indirect regulator of neuronal activities, and will lead to reassessment of its role.
Dr. Jihwan Myung says the mammalian brain remains mysterious, as many locations and their functions are not fully understood. Taking the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) as an example, it has long been considered the main biological clock that lets the rest of the body adjust to days and nights, while the choroid plexus that secretes cerebrospinal fluid was thought to be a brain region that received the SCN signals.
Research using animal models showed that the biological clock began in the choroid plexus, and that these time changes are more fixed and stable than the rhythm generated by the SCN. Even more amazing was the finding that the choroid plexus sends messages that regulate the SCN, thus taking a dominant role in the body’s biological clock.
In recent years, the biological clock has been the subject of much research, with the Nobel Prize in medicine awarded for this topic last year. As people’s sleeping patterns and circadian rhythms are interacting yet independent systems, biological clock malfunctions lead to many physiological symptoms and diseases such as strokes, asthma and sleeping disorders. Dr. Myung’s research is an important discovery in circadian biology. Future research will develop a biological clock model from a neuroscience perspective to help treat many health disorders.
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