Newswise — A research team has sharply expanded scientific knowledge of the composition of human spinal fluid. The researchers have identified 2,630 proteins that reside in fluid that is considered “normal,” a number nearly three times as great as the total number of proteins previously identified. Another striking finding was that more than half (56%) of the proteins were relatively unique to the spinal fluid and not found in blood.
This new information, which appears in the June 11 edition of the journal PLoS ONE, is potentially a major step forward in the study of diseases of the nervous system. It establishes a reference database that may help both researchers and clinicians determine the root causes of a number of neurological conditions and also increase the likelihood that improved diagnostic tests and treatments for those diseases can be discovered. .
The team was led by Steven E. Schutzer, MD, of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School (UMDNJ-NJMS), and Richard D. Smith, Ph.D., of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
“Spinal fluid, or as it is known, cerebrospinal fluid, is akin to a liquid window on the brain,” explained Schutzer. “This is why it is a very important fluid to examine in studying nervous system disorders.”
"This complex research was made possible by merging the expertise of different scientists, as well as having the sophisticated equipment needed to perform this work and the right spinal fluid samples to analyze,” Schutzer added.
The researchers explain that these new discoveries are only the beginning. Their capabilities to analyze different types of samples more quickly and with high precision are growing rapidly. "These exciting findings are the tip of our research iceberg” said Smith. Other collaborators include Tao Liu, Thomas E. Angel, Athena A. Schepmoes, Samuel O. Purvine, Kim K. Hixson, Mary S. Lipton, David G. Camp II of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Benjamin H. Natelson of UMDNJ and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Patricia K. Coyle of SUNY Stony Brook, and Jonas Bergquist of Uppsala University, Sweden.
Funding sources for this research included the National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Drug Abuse, and National Center for Research Resources).
UMDNJ is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 6,000 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Annually, there are more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/ Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a statewide mental health and addiction services network.