The concept of dendrite is used to name a branching protoplasmic extension which is part of a cell nervous and allows it to receive stimulation from the outside world. The dendrites, therefore, are terminal branches present in the neurons that guarantee the reception of nerve impulses that arrive from an axon corresponding to another neuron.
The dendrite, experts say, is the portion of the neuron that is excited by stimuli generated by other cells or environments. The axon, for its part, is responsible for distributing said excitation from the dendritic area.
It should be noted that these numerous and branched extensions present other smaller extensions that are known as dendritic spines, which are the places where the synapse.
In the case of a dendritic spine disorder, problems related to cognition develop. The Down’s Syndrome is one of the diseases related to atrophy or poor development of these dendrite extensions.
The dendrites, whose cytoplasm it presents mitochondria, microtubules, membranous vesicles and neurofilaments, they have chemoreceptors that react with neurotransmitters sent by the synaptic vesicles of presynaptic neurons. This means that dendrites are essential for the transmission of impulses through the nerve pathway that neurons form.
It should be noted that the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) accepts other uses of the concept of dendrite. The term can then be used to refer to the mineral structure that, with similar appearance to the branches of trees, appears in the cracks and the joints of the rocks. Another use of the notion is found in the engineering, where the dendrite is a metallic crystal that is produced by solidification and whose structure resembles a tree with many branches.
The role of dendrites in neurodegenerative diseases
Thanks to a study carried out in the University of Pennsylvania, it has been discovered that the work of the dendrites is not restricted only to receiving and sending chemical and electrical signals but they can also create proteins (Previously it was believed that the only area of the cell where it could be done was the nucleus).
This would highlight the fundamental role of these nerve extensions in the memory and learning process and make them a fundamental element when it comes to triggering neurodegenerative diseases. This is due to the fact that a minimal error in the RNA coding could result in a protein malformation that could damage the brain circuits that allow the normal functioning of memory, inevitably affecting it.
This new discovery could be essential when studying ways to cure or prevent diseases of this type such as Alzheimer’s. This sickness it is progressive type and a form of recovery is not yet known for her. It is an ailment that affects nerve cells in different regions of the brain, causing dysfunction in it; in such a way that the individual loses all ability to control their emotions, recognize patterns, coordinate movements and remember things. Among dementias, this is the most common, especially in elderly people, and is the fourth leading cause of death in adults.
There are also other diseases related to dendrites, many of them related exclusively to dendritic spines, which we have already discussed in previous paragraphs. Among them are the vertebral disorders such as diseases in the spine (where deviations are usually the most common), bone problems (where fractures are the most common) or even muscular atrophy or problems of various kinds in any muscle of the body.
All of this would lead us to understand that the role of dendrites is much more essential than previously believed and that it would open new avenues for research to counteract the effects of degenerative diseases.