According to the University of Science and Technology of China, the Xiong Wei Research Group of the College of Life Sciences and the Huang Guangming Research Group of the School of Chemistry and Materials Sciences cooperate through single cell mass spectrometry, photogenetics, molecular biology, electrophysiology and animal behavior. This study revealed the neurocirculatory mechanism of sun exposure to improve learning, memory and emotion and a new pathway of glutamate synthesis in the brain. The results were published online in the international academic journal Cell.
It is well known that moderate sunlight has many benefits for the human body, including the synthesis of vitamin D and the treatment of various skin diseases. In addition, it has been found that sunlight also has a certain degree of impact on the nervous system, such as moderate sunlight can improve people’s emotions and cognition. However, due to the limitations of research methods, the underlying mechanism of neurobehavioral changes induced by sunlight is not clear. How sunlight eventually affects the metabolism of nerve cells and the function of neural loops in the brain remains a mystery.
Xiong Wei and Huang’s team, using their recently developed single-cell mass spectrometry, combined with a variety of neuroscience tools, found that sunlight exposure to animal skin significantly increased the content of a chemical in the blood called UCA. They then found that the increased UCA could enter brain neurons through the blood-brain barrier, where UCA was converted to glutamate through a series of biological metabolic enzymes. Intracellular glutamate is released in the motor cortex and hippocampal nerve endings, thereby activating the neural loop associated with motor learning and memory, thus enhancing the ability of motor learning and object recognition and memory in animals.
Experts say this is the discovery of a new brain glutamate biosynthesis pathway since the 1970s and 1980s. Glutamate has many important physiological functions in the brain, such as protein synthesis, energy metabolism and excitatory nerve signal transduction. Therefore, the discovery of this pathway will play a very important role in understanding the mechanism of brain work and exploring the pathogenesis of related diseases.