We already know that our brain has a waste disposal system that prevents dead and toxic neurons from blocking our biological pathways. Now, scientists have captured video of this process for the first time in laboratory tests on mice.
We still don’t know much about how to clear dead neurons and how the brain responds to them, so even if we haven’t confirmed it, this new study may be an important step forward. The human brain works in exactly the same way.
Jaime Grutzendler, a neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine in Connecticut, said: “This is the first time this process has been seen in the living brain of a mammal.”
Looking further down, these findings may even provide information for the treatment of age-related brain weakness and nervous system diseases-once we learn more about how the brain cleansing works, scientists can better diagnose problems what happened.
The team focused on glial cells responsible for brain cleanup. They used a technique called 2Phatal to target single brain cells to apoptosis (cell death) in mice, and then used fluorescent markers to trace the path of glial cells.
Grutzendler said: “Inducing the death of a single cell, rather than hitting the brain with a hammer and causing thousands of deaths, this allows us to study what is happening after the cell begins to die and observe many other cells involved.”
“This was not possible before. We can explain very clearly what happened and understand the process.”
Three types of glial cells—microglia, astrocytes, and NG2 cells—are involved in a highly coordinated cell removal process that removes dead neurons and any connections to the rest of the brain. The researchers observed that a microglia engulfed the neuron body and its main branch (dendrite), while astrocytes targeted smaller connecting dendrites to remove them. They suspect that NG2 may help prevent the spread of dead cell debris.
The researchers also proved that if a glial cell misses a dead neuron for some reason, other types of cells will take over its role in the waste removal process-suggesting that some form occurs between glial cells Exchange.
Another interesting finding from this study is that although the garbage-clearing cells seem to know that there is a dying cell there, the brains of older mice are less efficient at removing dead nerve cells.
This is a good opportunity for future research, and it can give experts insight into how the old brain begins to fail in various ways as the garbage disposal service starts to slow down or even breaks.
One day a new treatment may be developed to perform the removal process in a way that represents the brain-not only among the elderly, but also those who have suffered head trauma.
Eyiyemisi Damisah, a neurologist at Yale School of Medicine, said: “Cell death is very common in brain diseases.”
“Understanding this process may yield insights on how to deal with cell death in injured brains from head trauma to stroke and other conditions.”
The study has been published on Scientific progress.