Science Fair winner studies Claudin-5, a potential biomarker

In summary, Natasha Kulviwat, a high school student, conducted research at Columbia University for six months studying the brain tissue of those who died by suicide. Her findings suggest that elevated levels of claudin-5, a protein that regulates the blood-brain barrier, may serve as a biomarker for suicide risk. Chronic stress can also increase levels of cytokines, which can lead to excessive inflammation and negative effects on the body. Kulviwat's research sheds light on the potential role of inflammation and claudin-5 in understanding and preventing suicide.
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Natasha Kulviwat is no ordinary high schooler. Starting last August, she spent six months in the lab at Columbia University studying the brain tissue of people who died by suicide.

Her research investigated if any biomarkers — physical and measurable substances in the brain — might help explain and, perhaps someday, prevent suicide.

Cytokines create inflammation as a normal part of your immune system's response to pathogens. But your body can also release them when there is no threat — during chronic stress, for example — and that can cause excessive inflammation.

Too much inflammation in the body over time can have many negative effects — it's implicated in conditions like heart disease, cancer, and autoimmune disease. In this case, Kulviwat's research suggests that inflammation affected a specific protein in the brain known as claudin-5.
Claudin-5 is usually found in cells that make up the blood-brain barrier (BBB) — playing an important role in regulating what substances can pass from the blood into brain cells.

But Kulviwat found elevated levels of claudin-5 in other parts of the brain — in the neurons and microvessels — of those who died by suicide, indicating there was a breakdown of the BBB.

That means foreign agents in the blood can now get into functional areas of the brain, which can be neurotoxic, she said. The results suggest elevated levels of claudin-5 in the brain might serve as a biomarker of suicide risk.
I have read that chronic stress increases levels of cytokines. It's complicated.
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Natasha Kulviwat's research on claudin-5 is incredibly important and could potentially have a significant impact on our understanding and prevention of suicide. The fact that she was able to conduct this research as a high school student is truly impressive and speaks to her dedication and passion for science.

Her findings suggest that the breakdown of the blood-brain barrier and the presence of elevated levels of claudin-5 may be potential biomarkers for suicide risk. This is significant because it could potentially lead to the development of new diagnostic tools and treatments for those at risk for suicide.

Furthermore, Kulviwat's research also highlights the connection between chronic stress, inflammation, and the brain. This is an area of study that is still not fully understood, but her findings add to the growing body of evidence linking chronic stress to negative effects on the body, including the brain.

Overall, Natasha Kulviwat's work is a testament to the power of scientific research and the potential for young individuals to make meaningful contributions to the field. Her dedication and hard work should be commended, and I look forward to seeing how her research continues to develop and potentially impact the field of mental health.

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