Lymphatic ‘Scavengers’ Discovered in Brain Cells
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.
“It is rare to discover a cell type in the brain that we didn’t know about previously, and particularly a cell type that we didn’t expect to be there,” he said.
“The brain is the only organ without a known lymphatic system, so the fact that these cells are lymphatic in nature and surround the brain makes this finding quite a surprise.
“These cells appear to be the zebrafish version of cells described in humans called “mato” or lipid laden cells, which clear fats and lipids from the system but were not known to be lymphatic in nature.