Immune cells invade aging brains, disrupt new nerve cell formation

ScienceDaily | 7/3/2019 | Staff
kringkring (Posted by) Level 4
While most of the experiments in the study were carried out in mice, the central finding -- the invasion, by immune cells called killer T cells, of neurogenic niches (specialized spots in the brain where new nerve cells, or neurons, are generated) -- was corroborated in tissue excised from autopsied human brains.

The findings could accelerate progress in hunting down the molecules in the body that promote the common deterioration of brain function in older individuals and in finding treatments that might stall or even reverse that deterioration. They also signify a crack in the wall of dogma that's deemed the healthy brain impervious to invasion by the body's immune cells, whose unbridled access to the organ could cause damage.

Textbooks - Immune - Cells - Brain - Anne

"The textbooks say that immune cells can't easily get into the healthy brain, and that's largely true," said Anne Brunet, PhD, professor of genetics and senior author of the study. "But we've shown that not only do they get into otherwise healthy aging brains -- including human brains -- but they reach the very part of the brain where new neurons arise."

Lead authorship of the study, to be published online July 3 in Nature, is shared by medical student Ben Dulken, PhD, graduate student Matthew Buckley and postdoctoral scholar Paloma Navarro Negredo, PhD.

Spot - Mammal - Brain - Brand - Neurons

Many a spot in a young mammal's brain is bursting with brand new neurons. But for the most part, those neurons have to last a lifetime. Older mammals' brains retain only a couple of neurogenic niches, consisting of several cell types whose mix is critical for supporting neural stem cells that can both differentiate into neurons and generate more of themselves. New neurons spawned in these niches are considered essential to forming new memories and to learning, as well as to odor discrimination.

In order to learn more about the composition...
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