Scientists Discover Lymphatic ‘Scavenger’ Brain Cells

Our focus now is to investigate how these cells function in humans and see if we can control them with existing drugs to promote brain health. (Image: Pixabay /  CC0 1.0)
Our focus now is to investigate how these cells function in humans and see if we can control them with existing drugs to promote brain health. (Image: Pixabay / CC0 1.0)

The brain has its own inbuilt processes for mopping up damaging cellular waste — and these processes may provide protection from stroke and dementia. University of Queensland scientists discovered a new type of lymphatic brain “scavenger” cell by studying tropical freshwater zebrafish — which share many of the same cell types and organs as humans.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Ben Hogan from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience said the fundamental discovery would help scientists understand how the brain forms and functions:

Dr Ben Hogan with some of his zebrafish tanks.

Dr. Ben Hogan with some of his zebrafish tanks. (Image: The University of Queensland )

Dr. Hogan said the study focused on the presence and development of “scavenger” cells in zebrafish; however, there was good reason to believe that equivalent cells surrounded and protected the human brain from a build-up of cellular waste:

The study was published in Nature Neuroscience and involved researchers from UQ’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience, the University of Melbourne, Monash University, and Japan’s National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Center.

Watch how zebrafish are helping us unlock the mysteries of the brain:

Provided by: The University of Queensland

[Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

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