Until recently, no one could find a connection between the brain and the immune system because no one could find any lymphatic vessels in the brain. For centuries, scientists and medical practitioners were convinced that the brain (part of the central nervous system) was kept safe from pathogens, since it lacked a direct connection to the lymphatic system (which performs important immune functions).
However, a team of researchers at the University Of Virginia School Of Medicine have done the unthinkable: they have discovered a new series of lymphatic vessels in the body that connect the brain to the immune system.
Lymphatic system clears the body of toxins
The lymphatic vessels carry immune cells, including the white blood cells, and rid the human body of dead blood cells, toxins and waste. These vessels may have gone undetected until now since they were hiding in the meninges (the layer of tissue that covers the brain) – the membrane that is frequently discarded when the brain is prepared for analysis.
Dr. Jonathan Kipnis, lead researcher and director of University of Virginia’s Center for Brain Immunology and Glia, commented:
“I really did not believe there are structures in the body that we are not aware of. I thought the body was mapped. I thought that these discoveries ended somewhere around the middle of the last century. But apparently they have not.”
Central nervous lymphatic system
The discovery of the central nervous system lymphatic system not only challenges the basic assumptions in neuroimmunology, it has the potential to revolutionize future treatment of patients suffering from neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases associated with immune system dysfunction such as autism, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis. Dr. Kipnis added:
“Instead of asking: ‘How do we study the immune response of the brain?’ ‘Why do multiple sclerosis patients have the immune attacks?’ now we can approach this mechanistically. Because the brain is like every other tissue connected to the peripheral immune system through meningeal lymphatic vessels. It changes entirely the way we perceive the neuroimmune interaction.
All neurological diseases have an immune component
“We always perceived it before as something esoteric that can’t be studied. But now we can ask mechanistic questions. We believe that for every neurological disease that has an immune component to it, these vessels may play a major role. It’s hard to imagine that these vessels would not be involved in a neurological disease with an immune component.
“For example, take Alzheimer’s disease. In Alzheimer’s, there are accumulations of big protein chunks in the brain. We think they may be accumulating in the brain because they’re not being efficiently removed by these vessels.”
Direct connection between the brain and immune system
The discovery was made possible by Dr .Antoine Louveau, a researcher in Dr. Kipnis’ lab. The lymphatic vessels were detected after Dr. Louveau mounted a mouse’s meninges on a single slide — rather than slicing them up, which is how they’re normally studied — in order to study the mouse’s brain as a whole, under high-powered microscopes.
A microscopic examination revealed immune cells spread across the meninges in vessel-like patterns; further testing confirmed them to be lymphatic vessels. Later, the team was able to show how the lymphatic vessels carry immune cells from the cerebrospinal fluid, along veins in the sinuses, and into nearby deep cervical lymph nodes — a direct connection between the brain and the immune system.
While the discovery of the new lymphatic vessels leads to more questions than answers, Kevin Lee, the chair of the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Virginia (who wasn’t involved in the research) is buoyant. Recalling the first time Dr. Kipnis showed him their results, Lee remarked:
This new discovery could be a game changer for many
“I just said one sentence: ‘They’ll have to rewrite 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.”
An estimated 8% of the U.S. population suffers from one of the 80 to 100 currently recognized autoimmune disorders. With more than 5 million Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s and over 3.5 million living with an autism spectrum disorder, this new discovery could be a game changer.
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Imagine a rotting corpse draped over your body from head to toe...
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Is Bread Really the Staff of Life… or the Stuff of Disease?
For most us, there are few foods more comforting than bread.
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And that smell… few scents are quite as pleasant as fresh bread baking in the oven.
But there is a lot of confusion as to where bread fits into a healthy diet.
The Bible practically commands followers to eat it: “Give us this day our daily bread…” The government put it at the base of the food pyramid. And for centuries, it has been called “the staff of life.”
Of course, there are some who disagree…
Well-known cardiologist, Dr. William Davis, calls wheat “the perfect chronic poison.”
And for a poison, we sure eat lots of it…
The average American consumes 55 pounds of wheat flour every year, making refined flour the #1 source of calories in the American Diet – a situation that nutrition expert Chris Kresser describes as, “a public health catastrophe.”
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The answers to these questions may surprise you!
Be sure to read #5 – the biggest surprise of all!
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Sponsored Health Resources
In the years that I've been working on this website project I've come across some amazing resources by some very special people. I'd like to share them with you here.
NOTE: I update these links often so please check back to see what's new!
1) Everyone knows green smoothies are healthy right? Have you heard of a “red” smoothie? If not, check out this story…
2) Forget what you've read about 10-day lemonade cleanses, 7-day detoxes with green juices and Gwyneth's gruel. All you need to do, and this is perfect for Saturday or or anytime really, is a simple 1-day cleanse.
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4) I thought it was virtually impossible for a website to be able to tell me anything even a little bit insightful after only submitting my name and date of birth... I was wrong!
5) Turmeric is amazing. The problem is - It's hard to absorb!
6) Wonder why your stomach still sticks out even though you're hammering the core exercises every day? It's a common myth that bulging belly is due to weak abdominal muscles.
7) Even if you're the most active of athletes, you may still suffer from tight hip flexors due to the amount of time you spend each day planted to a chair.
Enjoy! Let me know how these work out for you. And if you run across anything I've missed please let me know.