“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.”
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.
“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.”
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