It’s rare that new research means rewriting textbooks. But new information discovered by University of Virginia School of Medicine researchers might do just that for neuroscience, immunology, and even anatomy. This discovery also has definite implications for the diagnosis and treatment of neuroimmune conditions like Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome).
Excerpted from multiple sources.
“The relationship between the brain and the immune system has long puzzled researchers.” “Furthermore, to date, traditional lymphatic vessels had not been found there.” (The Scientist)
Neuroimmune conditions (like ME/CFS) are especially complex because the link between the brain and the immune system is not well understood by research. In other parts of the body, the lymphatic vessels act as sort of a highway for the immune system, taking cells to and from. But in the brain, there was no such understood system, until UVA researchers found one.
“The unexpected presence of the lymphatic vessels raises a tremendous number of questions that now need answers, both about the workings of the brain and the diseases that plague it. For example, take Alzheimer’s disease. “In Alzheimer’s, there are accumulations of big protein chunks in the brain,” Kipnis said. “We think they may be accumulating in the brain because they’re not being efficiently removed by these vessels.” He noted that the vessels look different with age, so the role they play in aging is another avenue to explore. And there’s an enormous array of other neurological diseases, from autism to multiple sclerosis, that must be reconsidered in light of the presence of something science insisted did not exist.” (MedicalXpress)
By a process as simple as staining before dissecting, UVA researchers uncovered surprising information. There are lymphatic vessels in the brain. This may sound like a small announcement but it actually means that previously held assumptions about the actual mechanical function of the brain may have been incorrect. And it means that coming waves of research may uncover new treatments and diagnostic tests for poorly understood or difficult to treat conditions like Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome).
“The discovery of the central nervous system lymphatic system may call for a reassessment of basic assumptions in neuroimmunology and sheds new light on the aetiology of neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases associated with immune system dysfunction.” (Nature)
What do you think? Does this discovery have the potential to change the game for neuroimmune conditions like ME/CFS?