Be it bug bites, burns, or allergies, we've all endured the redness and swelling that signals inflammation. When this goes on for too long it can become damaging. In the brain, inflammation is linked to Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and multiple sclerosis. Regulating how the brain deals with inflammation is the blood-brain-barrier – a structure made of endothelial cells, astrocytes and pericytes. Researchers investigated how astrocytes and pericytes contribute to inflammation by creating a 3D model of this barrier using tiny chips called microfluidic devices. The chips contained channels carved out of collagen, which were coated with endothelial cells (pink) to mimic blood vessels. Either astrocytes (green) or pericytes were also included and a chemical added to kickstart inflammation. Both cell types sent out chemical signals called cytokines but notably to differing levels. Further experiments with 3D chips may provide more clues to what these cells do when the brain is inflamed.
Written by Lux Fatimathas
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