The results of studies carried out by team led by Robert Zimmermann of the Institute for Molecular Biosciences were published in the latest issue of the scientific journal "The Journal of Biological Chemistry". In their experiments, they showed that the enzyme MGL can split so-called arachidonyl-glycerol, releasing a fatty acid named arachidonic acid, which has an important function in triggering inflammation processes in the body.
The experiments demonstrated that blocking MGL with the help of genetic methods has a positive effect on the arachidonyl-glycerol level, which ultimately inhibits neuroinflammation. However, an overly high level has side effects such as impaired memory, responsiveness and coordination of movement. The artificially induced increase of the arachidonyl-glycerol level is not the optimal approach.
The researchers subsequently investigated those stellate cells involved in releasing the arachidonic acid. These star-like cells, considered only as filling or auxiliary materials in the central nervous system, are responsible for carrying out several functions in the brain. They are involved in the blood-brain-barrier, which means they dock on the blood vessels and check to see which substances are sent by the blood to the organs. The researchers switched off the MGL in the stellate cells and observed that this step already protected the neuronal cells from inflammation. In this case there were no side effects.