Using magnetic nanoparticles and alternating magnetic fields, scientists activated heat-sensitive channels in the adrenal glands of rats. This led to the excitation of nerve cells, the release of blood corticosterone and adrenaline and increased heart rate. A similar system will allow to control the release of various hormones. Article published in the journal Science Advances.
Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is the main neuroendocrine system that regulates stress responses of the body. Disorders of this system lead to the fact that the balance of adrenal hormones is disturbed, and this may be associated with diseases such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression. In such situations, you need a mechanism for local control of release of hormones by the adrenal glands.
Secretion of hormones by the adrenal glands regulates the nervous system using electric pulses. To influence this process we have a few tools — it is possible to introduce the electrodes directly into the body (invasive and dangerous procedure), and it is possible to use electromagnetic, acoustic or optical stimulation. The signal can be targeted to transfer using magnetic nanoparticles that generate heat when exposed to an alternating magnetic field. This field penetrates deep into the tissues of the body and does not harm him. A mediator between the magnetic particles and nerve cells can act thermosensitive channel TRPV1, which when the temperature passes the cations (mainly calcium ions) inside the cell and triggers an electrical impulse.
Scientists from the U.S. and Switzerland under the guidance of Polina Anikeeva from mit activated heat-sensitive channels in the adrenal glands of rats using magnetic nanoparticles. For starters, they painted the TRPV1 receptors of the adrenal gland with the antibodies. This channel was able to detect 35% of the cells of the brain and 20 percent of the cortical substance of the adrenal glands.