The brain has an amazing ability to repair itself after injuries such as those caused by a stroke, but little is known about how this happens. Astrocytes – the support cells of the nervous system – provide nutrients and structural support for nerve cells and are thought to play a large role in injury repair. The challenge is to find out what astrocytes get up to after an injury. Here fluorescent proteins highlight varieties of astrocytes in different colours – the many coloured astrocytes are surrounding a dark spot where an injury has occurred. Different types of astrocytes have distinct responses to brain injury. One group, coloured turquoise, has grown in the direction of the cut to form a natural webbing helping to repair the damage. Investigations into how the nervous system repairs itself may lead to new therapies and treatments encouraging natural nervous system repair in brain injury patients.
Written by Mary-Clare Hallsworth
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