About this Research Topic
This Research Topic is dedicated to the role of trace metals in the healthy and diseased brain.
Essential trace metals play an unique role in the central nervous system (CNS) and the knowledge of the role of these neuro-metals has been considerably improved by their more efficient detection in the brain tissues and cells, imaging of metal-ion movement on the cellular level, studies on the function of trace metals as neuromodulators at the synapse, and studies on the impact of trace metals on gene expression, protein function and folding, and metabolism. Despite these efforts, still many fundamental issues concerning trace metal biology in the CNS remain unresolved. Neuro-Metallomics unifies different disciplines from chemistry to biological sciences, building on discoveries on the role of metals, metalloids and trace elements using a quantitative systems approach together with new insights into the functions of metals on cellular and subcellular level.
At the molecular level, variations on neuro-metals have impact on gene expression, protein activity and structure, as well as influence synaptic neurotransmission. Apart from the many signaling and metabolic pathways in the CNS that trace metals are involved, some metals such as zinc have a particular role in neurogenesis, neuronal migration and differentiation, and synaptic plasticity. Others, such as molybdenum, copper, and selenium, have been reported involved in neurodegeneration and epilepsy. It is therefore not surprising that deficiency or excess of trace metals has been shown to contribute to alterations in behavior, abnormal CNS development, and neurological diseases, but may also play a role in aging. Thus, it is of particular interest to examine the physiological/pathological mechanisms by which trace metals are involved in the etiology of brain disorders and neural plasticity.
Nowadays, it is recognized that alterations in the content of trace metals in the brain occur frequently associated with neurological, neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. The key for the development of treatment strategies for these disorders is a better understanding of the underlying patho-mechanisms. Recent years have seen important progress in the understanding of specific aspects of the neurobiology of certain brain disorders but also in the understanding of shared common factors between disorders. Given that altered metal homeostasis is such a shared factor, targeting trace metal homeostasis for the development of novel treatments is a rapidly emerging field of neuroscience research.
This Research Topic covers the physiology of trace metals and underpinning pathology of alterations in metals in the CNS. We think that this compilation of novel research papers and reviews will be a step towards better understanding of the many facets of trace metal biology in the brain and we are delighted to introduce this
Research Topic to the readers. Potential topics include, but are not limited to:
• Analytical approaches to characterize metallomes or recent developments in bioimaging of trace metals in the CNS.
• Structural and functional studies of metal-containing biomolecules that provide insight into their physiological or pathological molecular mechanisms in the brain.
• Studies on the role of trace metals during CNS development and aging, and in neurophysiology.
• Studies on trace metals relevant to human brain disorders from subcellular level up to a system-wide response to a disease process.
Keywords: zinc, trace element, metallomics, metallodrugs, metal ion
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