Circulation and cellular activity restored in a pig’s brain hours after death
Yale scientists have challenged long-held assumptions about the timing & irreversible nature of the cessation of brain functions after death, by restoring cellular activity in a pig’s brain after death.The brain of a post-mortem pig obtained from a meatpacking plant was isolated and circulated with a specially designed chemical solution. Many basic functions of cellular activity, once thought to cease seconds or minutes after oxygen and blood flow cease, were observed, the scientists report.
Senior author Nenad Sestan, professor of neuroscience, comparative medicine, genetics, and psychiatry, explains: “The intact brain of a large mammal retains a previously underappreciated capacity for restoration of circulation and certain molecular and cellular activities multiple hours after circulatory arrest.”
However, researchers also stressed that the treated brain lacked any recognisable global electrical signals associated with normal brain function. “At no point did we observe the kind of organised electrical activity associated with perception, awareness, or consciousness,” added co-first author Zvonimir Vrselja, associate research scientist in neuroscience. “Clinically defined, this is not a living brain, but it is a cellularly active brain.”
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