Scientists have gained a deeper understanding of how neurons in our brains repair and regrow after injury. It was known that injury activates the brain’s immune cells, called microglia, but exactly how they aid repair was unclear, partly because they can be difficult to distinguish from other cell types. Now researchers have developed a technique to lower the levels of microglia in the brains of mice and to observe how this reduction affects repair. Here are microglia (red) and retinal ganglion cells (blue) in a healthy mouse. Retinal ganglion cells are near the eye’s surface, and send visual information down long projections that reach deep into the brain. The team studied mice with an injury in their visual system. With fewer microglia, the injured tissue was less able to remove dead cells. However, it was still able to recover. This suggests that microglia may not be essential in repair.
Written by Deborah Oakley
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