Researchers Report that the Brain’s Immune Cells May Control Overly Active Nerve Cells
December 15, 2020
A team at the Gladstone Institute in California led by Katerina Akassoglou, PhD, has found a new role for microglia, which are immune cells in the brain that have multiple roles. Previous research showed that these cells are constantly moving and extending “branches” from their cell bodies. Using advanced microscopy and image analysis techniques, Dr. Akassoglou and colleagues showed that microglia are actually reaching out to overly excited neurons (nerve cells) and controlling their excess activity. The team is now expanding these studies to see if this behavior of microglia is relevant in diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
This work was funded by the National Institutes of Health, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and others. Dr. Akassoglou is a previous winner
of the Society’s Barancik Prize for innovation in MS Research.
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Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable disease of the central nervous system. Currently there is no cure. Symptoms vary from person to person and may include disabling fatigue, mobility challenges, cognitive changes, and vision issues. An estimated 1 million people live with MS in the United States. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to minimize disability. Significant progress is being made to achieve a world free of MS.