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
Velcro for human cells
16.01.2019 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
More efficient solar cells imitate photosynthesis
16.01.2019 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.
In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...
Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.
It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:
The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.
One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...
Just in time for Christmas, a Mars-analogue mission in Morocco, coordinated by the Robotics Innovation Center of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) as part of the SRC project FACILITATORS, has been successfully completed. SRC, the Strategic Research Cluster on Space Robotics Technologies, is a program of the European Union to support research and development in space technologies. From mid-November to mid-December 2018, a team of more than 30 scientists from 11 countries tested technologies for future exploration of Mars and Moon in the desert of the Maghreb state.
Close to the border with Algeria, the Erfoud region in Morocco – known to tourists for its impressive sand dunes – offered ideal conditions for the four-week...
Research opens doors in photonic quantum information processing, optical signal processing and microwave photonics
Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a new integrated photonics platform that can...
16.01.2019 | Event News
14.01.2019 | Event News
12.12.2018 | Event News
16.01.2019 | Life Sciences
16.01.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
16.01.2019 | Earth Sciences