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Neuroscientists Discover Direct Connection Between The Brain And Immune System

Scientist Microscope

Neuroscientists have discovered a previously unknown direct connection between the brain and the immune system, according to the preliminary findings of a recently published study.

The study’s findings, which were published on Monday in the journal Nature, imply a direct connection between the brain and the lymphatic system which prior research has held to not exist. Contrary to decades of doctrine indicating that the lymphatic system ends at the base of the skull,, the new model presents a lymphatic system which includes the brain.

The lymphatic system is not a part of the immune system, but it does carry the clear fluid filled with white blood cells known as lymph which helps remove toxins from the body.

The researchers made the discovery while examining mice brain membranes under the magnification of their microscopes, what they found had never been seen before: lymphatic vessels above the base of the skull. These never before seen lymphatic vessels extending beyond the base of the skull are cause to rewrite the old literature, according to Dr. Kevin Lee.

Dr. Lee, chairman of the University of Virginia’s neuroscience department, indicated in a press release published Monday that he issued one sentence upon learning of the basic results of the research, “They’ll have to change the textbooks.”

The first time these guys showed me the basic result, I just said one sentence: ‘They’ll have to change the textbooks.’ There has never been a lymphatic system for the central nervous system, and it was very clear from that first singular observation – and they’ve done many studies since then to bolster the finding – that it will fundamentally change the way people look at the central nervous system’s relationship with the immune system.

As for why the vessels have never been noticed before, the study’s lead author, Dr. Jonathan Kipnis with the University of Virginia’s Center for Brain Immunology and Glia, told the Huffington Post by email that the vessels are “well hidden” behind a major blood vessel to the sinuses in an area of the brain which is difficult to image.

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