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“Zombie genes” wake up in your brain after you die

Researchers have just detected “zombie genes” linked to inflammatory cells and whose activity increases significantly several hours after death.

Crédits : ayoubZineLaarab / Pixabay

When you die and your heart stops beating, the blood gradually stops flowing and irrigating your brain, causing “The irreversible disappearance of brain activity” explains theWHO. However, this new study published in the Scientific Reports and conducted by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago could lead us to redefine the fate that awaits us all.

The researchers studied human brain tissue from people who had undergone surgery, and tried to see the degradation of genes in the first 24 hours after death. “We decided to perform a mock death experiment by examining the expression of all human genes, over a period of 0 to 24 hours, from a large block of recently removed brain tissue, which we allowed to stand. at room temperature to reproduce the post-mortem interval “ explains Jeffrey Loeb, lead author of the study.

Credit: Jeffrey Loeb / UIC

While the majority of genes that provide cellular functions continue to function and other genes related to memory and general convulsive activity degrade very quickly, the study shows us that the activity of other genes s ‘increases very strongly: “Zombie genes”. These are linked to glial cells, otherwise called inflammatory cells, but the finding would not be surprising: “It is little wonder that glial cells continue to grow after death, given that they play an inflammatory role and their job is to clean up the mess after brain damage like lack of oxygen or stroke.” says Loeb.

Could this discovery lead us to “wake up” a brain after death? No, at least, we are far from it. Nevertheless, it could play a big role in research aimed at curing degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, among others. “Thanks to these experiments, we now know which genes and cell types are stable, which degrade and which increase in activity over time, which makes it easier to interpret post-mortem brain studies.” concludes Jeffrey Loeb.

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