Discovery of New Immune Cell Type May Unlock Strategies against Neurological Disorders and CNS Damage

Investigators at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and the University of Michigan, have identified in mice a new type of immune cell, which their in vivo studies showed can rescue damaged nerve cells from death and partially reverse nerve fiber damage. The scientists also identified a human immune cell line that exhibits similar characteristics, and which promotes nervous system repair.

They suggest that the findings may point to new strategies for enabling recovery from degenerative neurological diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and multiple sclerosis (MS), as well as from damage caused by traumatic brain and spine injuries and stroke. “This immune cell subset secretes growth factors that enhance the survival of nerve cells following traumatic injury to the central nervous system,” said Benjamin Segal, MD, professor and chair of the department of neurology at the Ohio State College of Medicine and co-director of the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s Neurological Institute. “It stimulates severed nerve fibers to regrow in the central nervous system, which is really unprecedented. In the future, this line of research might ultimately lead to the development of novel cell-based therapies that restore lost neurological functions across a range of conditions.”

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Excess of Immune Cells Found in Brains of People with Autism

About four years ago, pathologist Matthew Anderson was examining slices of postmortem brain tissue from an individual with autism under a microscope when he noticed something extremely odd: T cells swarming around a narrow space between blood vessels and neural tissue. The cells were somehow getting through the blood-brain barrier, a wall of cells that separates circulating blood from extracellular fluid, neurons, and other cell types in the central nervous system, explains Anderson, who works at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. “I just have seen so many brains that I know that this is not normal.”

He soon identified more T-cell swarms, called lymphocytic cuffs, in a few other postmortem brains of people who had been diagnosed with autism. Not long after that, he started to detect another oddity in the brain tissue—tiny bubbles, or blebs. “I’d never seen them in any other brain tissue that I’ve looked at for many, many different diseases,” he says. Anderson began to wonder whether the neurological features he was observing were specific to autism.

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El hombre que se recuperó de esclerosis múltiple

Hasta 2013 Stephen Storey era una persona tremendamente enérgica: corría maratones, hacía surf, montañismo y el submarinismo era una de sus grandes pasiones.

Pero en cuestión de nueve meses pasó a estar permanentemente en silla de ruedas, no podía estar de pie ni caminar y pasó a depender de ayuda las 24 horas del día para hacer las actividades más básicas, como comer o asearse.

“Fue un deterioro bastante dramático”, resume ahora con una sonrisa.

El inicio fue muy repentino. “Como mejor puedo describirlo es así: es como si mi cuerpo se rindiera, se disipó la fuerza que tenía y me desplomé en el suelo”.

“Ahí me di cuenta de que algo iba mal”, le contó a la BBC.

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