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cell activity in the human brain does not end with death. Rather, some cells become more active after death. This emerges from a study by the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), which was published in March 2021 in the specialist magazine "Scientific Reports" .

The scientists examined fresh brain tissue, which was taken during routine operations, and analyzed gene expression at different times after the withdrawal. In this way, they simulated the developments in the brain after death. As says in a press release from University , the activity of certain "zombie genes" in the so-called glial cells increased. In the course of this, there was a pronounced growth, with the cells of long, poor-like processes formed.

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Discovery of "Zombie genes" has consequences for brain research

for Dr. Jeffrey Loeb, chief neurologist at the UIC and co-author of the study, is not surprising this growth. Because glial cells are inflammatory "and their task is to clean up after brain injuries - for example due to lack of oxygen or a stroke," said Loeb according to the press release.

, however, is important to the consequences of this discovery: Because many studies that examined brain tissue, for example to find treatment or healing options for autism, Alzheimer's or schizophrenia, these changes would not be calculated after death. "Many studies assume that everything stops in the brain when the heart stops, but it is not that way," continued Loeb.

memory and thinking genes are quickly dismantled

but now you know which gene and cell types are behaving after death. Apart from the active “zombie genes”, the scientists were able to show that around 80 percent of the genes analyzed remained relatively stable up to 24 hours after death. Below this, the so-called housekeeping genes, which ensure basic cellular functions.

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, on the other hand, another gene group, which occurs in nerve cells and is involved in memory and thinking functions, was quickly mined in the hours after death. These genes are important when examining schizophrenia or Alzheimer's. About twelve hours after death, the changes in the change of the groups reached the respective highlight. With this knowledge, Loeb hopes, tissue studies for the human brain can now be better understood.

This article was published by Business Insider in March 2021. It has now been checked and updated.

Brain X-ray (HUGE) © Hayri er via Getty Images Brain X-Ray (Huge)

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