Researchers at the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) have succeeded in revealing the drainage pathway of brain debris that can induce dementia.
Brain debris is a metabolite produced by the metabolic activity of the brain, and accumulation in the brain causes degenerative brain diseases such as dementia.
The team, led by Professor Koh Gou-young at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, has discovered that the basal side of the skull as the primary route of the so-called “hotspot” for cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) drainage.
Although scientists had confirmed that the brain drains its waste via the CSF, they failed to find out an exact route for the brain’s cleansing mechanism.
The team found that basal meningeal lymphatic vessels (mLVs) function as the main plumbing pipes for CSF and that macromolecules in the CSF mainly runs through the basal mLVs. The researchers also revealed that the brain’s major drainage system, specifically basal mLVs, impair with age.
“As a hidden exit for CSF, we looked into the mLVs trapped within complex structures at the base of the skull,” said Professor Ahn Ji-hoon, the first author of this study.
The team used several techniques to characterize the basal mLVs in detail, such as genetically engineered lymphatic-reporter mouse model to visualize mLVs under a fluorescence microscope. By examining the mice skull, the researchers found distinctive features of basal mLVs that make them suitable for CSF uptake and drainage as the basal mLVs are closely located to the CSF. They also verified that specialized morphologic characteristics of basal mLVs facilitate the CSF uptake and drainage.
“Developing therapeutic agents that improve the drainage function of the basal mLVs can provide a clue to new methods of treating degenerative brain diseases,” Professor Koh said.
The journal Nature published the result of the study.
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