Study of the hippocampus in depression provides greater understanding of why it is important for those with Central Pain to avoid stress. Yes, we know the title should read “Semi-survival” but “Survival” will have to do. We have already discussed peripheral nerve neuroprotection (see article on Calpain). This article discusses neuroprotection in the brain.
Brain “neuroprotection” is a big deal. It turns out that nerve cells, or neurons, must be maintained, serviced, and protected. The chemicals which do this come largely from the glia cells which surround the neurons. Although the field is so new that the terms do not yet have specific meaning, there is the realization that brain degenerative changes have to do with an entire, discrete system of nerve cell maintenance.
Pain itself is not simply a matter of unwanted signals. It is the matter of a maintenance program which cannot function. The production of pain exciters has become a “stuck on switch”, which means gene expression is not under proper control and pain exciters continue to pour out. This is disaster. This is Central Pain.
The neurons were not meant to so function and are themselves delicate structures. Evidence appears that there is massive cell death at first and steady cell death thereafter in some areas. The powerful depression that sets in may prevent the hippocampus from indexing the damage and providing proper maintenance. This makes avoidance of stress essential in CP, just as the NIH has stated. (see eg. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/central_pain/central_pain.htm
How the body is arranged to protect the neuron is just now beginning to be understood. However, the term, “neuroprotection” is now a buzz word, with EVERY drug company hoping to use the term to bolster the reputation of some drug.
REAL neuroprotection is still a ways off, since the field is so new. The claim for neuroprotection is already so wide, that it is amazing so little is actually known about it. Still, it is the next big thing. In its infancy, but full of promise, it is not unlike the Internet, back in the eighties, when the wise were beginning to register domain names. Every pharmaceutical firm wants to have a stake in the neuroprotection turf, and will soon claim one whether or not they actually can back it up. Herbs, health food supplements, and diets will soon be billed as “neuroprotective”. In the meantime, until they really know what they are talking about, CP patients must do their own neuroprotection, by keeping stress out of their lives. It is their only hope to make do with what is left of them.
Back in the days of the V-8 engine, it was not uncommon to see