Scientists Watch Brain’s Lining Heal After Head Injury
Following head injury, the protective lining that surrounds the brain may get a little help from its friends: immune cells that spring into action to assist with repairs. In a new study, NIH scientists watched in real time as different immune cells took on carefully timed jobs to fix the damaged lining of the brain, also known as meninges, in mice. These results may help provide clues to the discovery that the meninges in humans may heal following mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and why additional hits to the head can be so devastating.
“The lining of the brain, with help from the immune system, has a remarkable ability to put itself back together again after injury,” said Dr. Dorian McGavern, NINDS scientist and senior author of the study published in Nature Immunology. “As we learn more about all the cells involved in the repair process, we may be able to identify potential targets for therapy that lead to better outcomes for patients.”
The study came about from an observation on MRI scans of adult patients who experienced a concussion or mTBI. Around half of patients with mTBI show evidence of injury to blood vessels in the meninges, which appears on MRI scans as a vascular dye leaking out of the damaged vessels.
The meninges are a collection of membranes that line the central nervous system and help protect brain and spinal cord tissue from various forms of injury. Damage to the meninges can cause cell death in underlying brain tissue.