Brain-Lymphatic Discovery May Hasten Science

Neurological Connection to Immune System

A study at the University of Virginia (UVA) School of Medicine has found that the brain is directly connected to the body’s immune system through a previously unknown set of lymphatic vessels. The discovery furthers the understanding for medical scientists of how the brain’s immune system works. While it’s been known for decades that lymphatic vessels transport immune cells through the rest of the body, confirming that this also occurs within the brain has been elusive.

The discovery is attributed to Antoine Louveau, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at UVA. He says, “It changes entirely the way we perceive the neuro-immune interaction. We always perceived it before as something esoteric that can’t be studied, but now we can ask mechanistic questions.”

According to researchers, physicians can now examine the physical connection between the immune system and the brain instead of only studying how the brain responds to immune issues; it might also improve how diseases like Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, autism and others are understood and treated.

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