Neuroscience

Harnessing the microbiome to improve stroke recovery

Supplementing the body's short chain fatty acids can improve stroke recovery, according to research in mice recently published in JNeurosci. Short chain fatty acid supplementation may be a non-invasive addition to stroke ...

Neuroscience

Radiation breaks connections in the brain

One of the potentially life-altering side effects that patients experience after cranial radiotherapy for brain cancer is cognitive impairment. Researchers now believe that they have pinpointed why this occurs and these findings ...

Alzheimer's disease & dementia

How a protein in your brain could protect against Alzheimer's disease

New research has found that the most common version of a protein called CD33 plays a crucial role in regulating white blood cells in the human brain, which could have important implications in the fight against Alzheimer's ...

Medical research

Studying the human brain in mice

The human brain is a tricky study subject. Brain scans are still limited in resolution and the knowledge they can provide, and in vitro approaches are not yet able to fully replicate the important micro-environment of brain ...

Alzheimer's disease & dementia

Targeting immune cells may be potential therapy for Alzheimer's

Messy tangles of a protein called tau can be found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease and some other neurodegenerative diseases. In Alzheimer's, the tangles coalesce just before tissue damage becomes visible ...

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Microglia

Microglia are a type of glial cell that are the resident macrophages of the brain and spinal cord, and thus act as the first and main form of active immune defense in the central nervous system (CNS). Microglia constitute 20% of the total glial cell population within the brain.[citation needed] Microglia (and astrocytes) are distributed in large non-overlapping regions throughout the brain and spinal cord. Microglia are constantly scavenging the CNS for damaged neurons, plaques, and infectious agents. The brain and spinal cord are considered "immune privileged" organs in that they are separated from the rest of the body by a series of endothelial cells known as the blood-brain barrier, which prevents most infections from reaching the vulnerable nervous tissue. In the case where infectious agents are directly introduced to the brain or cross the blood-brain barrier, microglial cells must react quickly to decrease inflammation and destroy the infectious agents before they damage the sensitive neural tissue. Due to the unavailability of antibodies from the rest of the body (few antibodies are small enough to cross the blood brain barrier), microglia must be able to recognize foreign bodies, swallow them, and act as antigen-presenting cells activating T-cells. Since this process must be done quickly to prevent potentially fatal damage, microglia are extremely sensitive to even small pathological changes in the CNS. They achieve this sensitivity in part by having unique potassium channels that respond to even small changes in extracellular potassium.

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