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Biology human body

Bravo! the mystery resolved – “Brain clearing out the dead neurons”

In an average human body, tens of billions of cells die everyday. The dead and the dying cells must be quickly removed to prevent the development of inflammation, which could trigger the death of the neighbouring cells. Recently, the researchers at Yale School of Medicine have directly imaged the death of neurons in mice, as well as how the body clears them out afterwards.

Further down the line, these findings might even inform treatments for age-related brain decline and neurological disorders-once we know more about how brain clean-up is supposed to work, scientists can better diagnose what happens when something goes wrong.

The team focused on the “glial cells” responsible for doing the clean-up work in the brain, they used a technique called 2Phatal to target a single brain cell for apoptosis (cell death) in a mouse and then followed the route of glial cells using fluorescent markers.

Three types of glial cells – microglia, astrocytes, and NG2 cells – were shown to be involved in a highly coordinated cell removal process, which removed both the dead neuron and connecting pathways to the rest of the brain. The researchers observed one microglia engulf the neuron body and its main branches (dendrites), while astrocytes targeted smaller connecting dendrites for removal. They suspect NG2 may help prevent the dead cells debris from spreading.

The researchers also demonstrated that if one type of glial cell missed the dead neuron for whatever reason, other types of cells would take over their role in the waste removal process – suggesting some sort of communication is occuring between the glial cells.

Another interesting finding from the research was that older mouse brains were less efficient in clearing out dead neural cells, even though the garbage removal cells seemed to be just as aware that a dying cell was there.

New treatments might one day be developed that can take over this clearing process on the brains behalf – not just in elderly people, but also those who have suffered trauma to the head, for example.

Neurologist Elyiyemisis Damisah from Yale School of Medicine says, ” Cell death is very common in diseases of the brain. Understanding the process might yield insights on how to address cell death in an injured brain from head trauma to stroke and other conditions.”

For the first time scientists captured video of brain clearing out dead neuron

4 replies on “Bravo! the mystery resolved – “Brain clearing out the dead neurons””

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