The brain's emergency response call

Saturday, May 26, 2012 - 13:20 in Health & Medicine

How the brain's emergency workers respond to distress calls from dying neuronsThe film clip shows shows microglial cells (labelled green) migrating towards injured neurons in the embryonic zebrafish brain. Microglia are immune cells that act as the brain's emergency workers - they constantly patrol the organ, extending and retracting their finger-like protruberances to sniff out any damage, and then migrating to an injury site to mop up dead cells and other cellular debris. New research shows that they migrate to an injury site in response to a distress call sent out by dying neurons and transmitted throughout the brain. I've written a news story about the work for Science.Microglia are also deployed to engulf microbes that invade the brain. But they're not just active during emergencies: they also play an active role in the healthy brain, and are critical for proper development of the organ. During embryonic development, the brain...

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