By eliminating one type of immune cell in the brain, researchers were able to erase any evidence of inflammation following traumatic brain injury, according to a study from Ohio State University.
"We used a drug to wipe out cells called microglia in mice that had experienced brain injury, and the inflammation that is a hallmark of traumatic brain injury vanished," says study leader Kristina Witcher, an OSU graduate student who presented the findings at the annual Society for Neuroscience meeting.
Finding potential targets for treatment of serious brain injury is a major goal of neuroscience because there currently are no known approved medications to treat it, Witcher indicates. Furthermore, understanding cellular-level changes associated with sports-related concussions and other brain injuries could give health-care providers better scientific support for post-injury recommendations, such as how long an athlete should stay off the field. The study was designed to mimic the type of traumatic brain injury a person would experience after hitting his or her head with enough force to lose consciousness briefly.
"Chronic inflammation with brain injury is harmful and, in this study, we were able to eliminate that inflammatory response of the immune system by targeting just one specific cell type," explains senior author Jonathan Godbout, assistant director for basic science at OSU's Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research. "Now, we have a specific cell to aim for when looking at potential interventions to decrease the harm caused by concussions."
Though other cell types, including those that make up blood vessels, previously have been implicated in the inflammation following serious head injury, this study offers detailed proof that immune cells called microglia...