The Mysterious Role of the Skull in Brain Health We Didn’t Know : ScienceAlert

Bone marrow cells in the skull show a unique response to disease, meaning the skull could be a useful way to monitor and potentially treat inflammation in the brain, scientists say. said.

A team of German and British researchers investigating this response propose that the findings could serve as a noninvasive skull-imaging technique.

“This opens up a myriad of possibilities for diagnosing and treating brain diseases and could revolutionize our understanding of neurological disorders,” said neuroscientist Ari Ertürk of the University of Munich in Germany.

“This breakthrough will lead to more effective monitoring of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease and stroke, and may even help prevent the onset of these diseases by enabling early detection.”

Two PET images of the brain
Project the differences in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients onto a 3D surface. (Colavus et al., cell2023)

neuroinflammation Plays an important role in many diseases of the brain and nervous systemactivates immune cells and releases inflammatory molecules that help protect and heal tissues. However, it can be costly, Risk of injury and impaired healing. In addition, the skull and other membranes protect the brain, making it difficult to access for treatment of erroneous inflammation.

Scientists recently discovered a pathway from the bone marrow in the skull through the meninges, the protective membrane on the outermost surface of the brain, allowing the migration of immune cells and the notion that there is no direct communication between the skull and the brain. questioned.

It is well known that immune cells can enter the brain after a problem such as stroke weakens the blood-brain barrier, but how do immune cells enter brain layers through the skull? , the frequency with which brain layers are accessed in this manner compared to other pathways is unknown.

Diagram of the human brain visualized using tissue removal.
A) Area and top (coronal) view of the skull depicting the meningeal layers and brain. B) Microscopic image of the clear tissue corresponding to the red box in A. The right panel shows the cranial meningeal connection from the cranial marrow to the subdural space and dura mater. C) Representative skull piece tissue was removed and imaged for SMC frequency. (Colavus et al., cell2023)

In experiments visualizing human brain, meninges, and skull samples, the team used a combination of tissue removal and 3D imaging.

Tissue clearing is the process of processing living tissue to make it transparent. In this context, the process allowed light to pass through for microscopic examination of brain tissue and skull.

The researchers found that the cytostructures of the cranial meningeal junction (SMC) extend closer to the surface of the brain than previously thought, often covering the dura mater, the outermost and hardest meninges. I saw it pass through.

“These findings have profound implications and suggest a much more complex relationship between the skull and the brain than previously thought,” said neuroimmunologist Ilgin Colabas of the University of Munich. Stated.

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Coravas et al. also studied six different bone, dura mater and brain cells and found that different bones had different molecular profiles and unique immune cells were detected in the skull.

Protein analysis of human post-mortem skull, spine and pelvic bone samples has again revealed the unique molecular profile of the skull. The calvaria, which forms part of the upper part of the skull, had the most differentially expressed genes and cell receptors, mainly associated with migration and inflammation.

The researchers also found that the skulls of both humans and mice contain specialized neutrophil cells, a type of white blood cell that plays an important role in the body’s immune defenses.

The researchers used a type of functional imaging called positron emission tomography (PET) to detect changes in signals within the skull that reflect signals from the underlying brain in human patients with Alzheimer’s disease and stroke. detected. They also detected increased disease-specific translocator protein (TPSO) signals in different parts of the skull in a number of neurological diseases.

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Scientists believe new findings about immune responses in the skull suggest that brain inflammation can be detected simply by scanning a patient’s skull.

“This could potentially be done using portable and wearable devices, providing a more accessible and practical way to monitor brain health,” Erturk explains.

Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and multiple sclerosis are just a few of the neurological disorders that affect millions of people worldwide.

“The detailed demonstration of cranial inflammation in a variety of human diseases suggests future uses for disease diagnosis and monitoring,” the researchers conclude. “However, detailed clinical studies are needed to explore its clinical utility.”

The study was published in a journal cell.

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