Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Hidden Passages

Immune cells travel to the brain via the skull through channels from skull bone marrow

27 September 2018

Hidden Passages

Carefully managing immune responses to injury and infection is critical to survival: during inflammation, immune cells flock to damaged areas to defend the body, but an excessive response can also be dangerous, threatening organ function. To explore inflammatory responses in more detail, researchers working with mice labelled immune cells known as neutrophils, from the marrow of different bones, with coloured dyes. After a stroke, they found that immune cells recruited to the brain came primarily from the skull’s bone marrow, reaching the brain through microscopic channels. Shown here in a mouse skull, joining the marrow (above) to the inner surface of the skull (below), these channels enable quick communication between the brain and bone marrow. Although we do not yet know whether immune cells travel along these channels in humans as they do in mice, studying these connections could be important for understanding the regulation of inflammation in the brain.

Written by Emmanuelle Briolat

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