Helpful B cells lend a hand to developing neurons

ScienceDaily | 3/13/2018 | Staff
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Neurons are specialized cells of the nervous system that communicate using electrical signals, which propagate down long, wire-like projections called axons. The conduction of these signals requires myelin, a fatty substance that surrounds axons in much the same way that plastic coating surrounds an electrical wire.

Several neurological disorders, including autism and schizophrenia, are thought to be driven in part by the failure of myelin to properly surround axons during development. In a study published in Nature Neuroscience, researchers at Osaka University have added an unexpected piece to the developmental puzzle, showing that immune cells may play a key role in helping myelin to form around newly minted neurons.

T - B - Cells - Players - Immune

T and B cells are vital players in the immune system; their job is to circulate through the body, find infectious agents, and mount a protective response. These cells spend most of their time traversing the bloodstream and the lymph nodes -- but are thought to be blocked from accessing the brain.

"The central nervous system is protected from pathogens by a highly selective barrier that keeps the circulatory system physically separated from the brain," lead author Shogo Tanabe explains. "It's generally believed that this barrier also excludes immune cells from the brain. Our study suggests otherwise, though, as we found that a certain type of B cell is quite abundant in the ventricles, meninges, and choroid plexus in the brains of young mice. Even...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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