Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Infection Redirection

Insight into why systemic infection impedes brain injury recovery

03 November 2021

Infection Redirection

The road to recovery can be even harder than an injury’s immediate impact. This is particularly true in the brain where injury can cause long-term disability. Recovery is often much worse in patients who contract infections, but the reasons for this are unclear. A new study examining immune activity in mice with mild traumatic brain injury found that immune cells essential to repair are diverted away during infection. This reprioritisation delays repair to blood vessels in the brain (pictured, seven days after injury with functional blood vessels labelled yellow, and those still damaged in red). Full belated recovery may be possible from mild injury and a single infection, but after severe injury like stroke the speed of repair is essential to preserving brain function. The study, which identified the key signalling proteins involved in redirecting the immune system, emphasises that infection control is central to a full and fast recovery.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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