Research gives clear target for drug development and further study into memory loss
Source: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
The loss of memory and cognitive function known to afflict survivors of septic shock is the result of a sugar that is released into the blood stream and enters the brain during the life-threatening condition.
Sepsis is a systemic infection of the body. One-third of patients admitted to hospitals with sepsis go into septic shock. Of those, half will die.
The test uses a urine sample to check concentrations of a type of sugar, glycosaminoglycans, that ordinarily coat cells lining blood vessels and other surfaces inside the body.
In septic shock, the body sheds fragments of these sugars, and the team found that higher concentrations portend death. The test is used in clinical settings, and the insight has helped doctors search for more effective therapies.
Their next step tested whether a link exists between the sugars and mental aging associated with septic shock.
Research showed that, during septic shock, fragments of the sugar heparan sulfate crossed the blood-brain barrier and entered the hippocampus, a region of the brain critical to memory and cognitive function