Missing link found between brain, immune system

Missing link found between brain, immune system

June 2, 2015

Overrturning decades of textbook teaching, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have discovered that the brain is directly connected to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist.

The finding could have significant implications for the study and treatment of neurological diseases ranging from autism to Alzheimer’s disease to multiple sclerosis.

“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.” said Jonathan Kipnis, PhD, professor in the UVA Department of Neuroscience and director of UVA’s Center for Brain Immunology and Glia (BIG).

“We believe that for every neurological disease that has an immune component to it, these vessels may play a major role,” Kipnis said. “Hard to imagine that these vessels would not be involved in a [neurological] disease with an immune component.”

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