Traffic jams in the brain

Neurons transport cargo of various sizes constantly, and many times, this can lead to traffic jams. A new study of the roundworm (Caenorhabditis elegans) and fruitfly (Drosophila) shows that such traffic jams can be due to purely physical constraints, not involving any chemical signalling processes. Such stalling of cargo can happen in neurons affected by neurodegenerative diseases.
A recent study shows that it can happen even in normal cells. This could be a method adopted by the neuron to regulate the flow of mitochondria, vesicles containing neurotransmitters, and the like, along the length of its axon. The axon is the long arm of the neuron, which reaches out to the synapse or nerve endings. The study is published in the journal Traffic.
The researchers compare this to Indian roads. On the road, there are vehicles of several sizes and people walking, all moving on the same narrow lane. If one of these vehicles should stop for some reason, traffic tends to pile up temporarily. It eases out once the vehicle moves on and the traffic jam is cleared. Similar traffic jams of cargo happen in the axon.
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