Blood-circulating immune cells can take over the essential immune surveillance of the brain, this is shown by scientists of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) and the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research in Tübingen. Their study, now published in PNAS, might indicate new ways of dealing with diseases of the nervous system.
The immune system is comprised of multiple cell types each capable of specialized functions to protect the body from invading pathogens and promote tissue repair after injury. One cell type, known as monocytes, circulates throughout the organism in the blood and enters tissues to actively phagocytose (eat!) foreign cells and assist in tissue healing.
While monocytes can freely enter most bodily tissues, the healthy, normal brain is different as it is sequestered from circulating blood by a tight network of cells known as the blood brain barrier. Thus, the brain must maintain a highly specialized, resident immune cell, known as microglia, to remove harmful invaders and respond to tissue damage.
In certain situations, such as during disease, monocytes can enter the brain and also contribute to tissue repair or disease progression. However, the potential for monocytes to actively replace old or injured microglia is under considerable debate. To address this, Nicholas Varvel, Stefan Grathwohl and colleagues from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) Tübingen and the Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research in Tübingen used a transgenic mouse model in which almost all brain microglia cells (>95%) can be removed within two weeks. This was done by introducing a so-called suicide gene into microglia cells and administering a pharmaceutical agent that leads to acute death of the cells. Surprisingly, after the ablation of the microglia, the brain was rapidly repopulated by blood-circulating monocytes. The monocytes appeared similar, but not identical to resident microglia. The newly populated monocytes, evenly dispersed throughout the brain, responded to acute neuronal injury and other stimuli — all activities normally assumed by microglia. Most interestingly, the monocytes were still present in the brain six months - nearly a quarter of the life of a laboratory mouse - after initial colonization.
These studies now published in PNAS provide evidence that blood-circulating monocytes can replace brain resident microglia and take over the essential immune surveillance of the brain. Furthermore, the findings highlight a strong homeostatic mechanism to maintain a resident immune cell within the brain. The observation that the monocytes took up long-term residence in the brain raises the possibility that these cells can be utilized to deliver therapeutic agents into the diseased brain or replace microglia when they become dysfunctional. Can monocytes be exploited to combat the consequences of Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases? The scientists and their colleagues in the research groups headed by Mathias Jucker are now following exactly this research avenue.Original publication:
Marcus Neitzert | idw
Molecular libraries for organic light-emitting diodes
24.04.2017 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Fine organic particles in the atmosphere are more often solid glass beads than liquid oil droplets
21.04.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
24.04.2017 | Trade Fair News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine