Blood-brain barrier breakdown leads to increased activation of immune system


By Ed Pinches | Wednesday 04 December 2019

Scientists have found that faults in the blood-brain barrier lead to increased immune activity in the brain of mice. The researchers published the findings in two scientific papers in Science Translational Medicine.

Dr Sara Imarisio, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“A barrier between the blood and brain is an important protection against damage and infection, and faults in it have been implicated in diseases like Alzheimer’s. This early-stage research, predominately carried out in mice, suggests that the immune system is activated when the blood-brain barrier fails and highlights a potential way to detect people with a leaky-blood brain barrier. These findings will need to be followed up with more extensive research in people.

“Alzheimer’s is complex and changes to the blood-brain barrier are just one aspect of the disease. While this research in mice highlights a potential way to limit the impact of a leaky blood-brain barrier, this is unlikely to affect other brain changes driving damage in Alzheimer’s. While this well-conducted research improves our understanding of early brain changes associated with ageing it does not suggest dementia has been reversed.

“Increasingly, scientists are focusing on the immune system as a way to potentially treat diseases like Alzheimer’s in future. Taking intriguing findings like this forward will help in the search for new drugs that could be the key to treating these devastating brain diseases.”


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Ed Pinches