Further research published into the link between traumatic brain injury and dementia

Extensive research now suggests that having suffered a major brain head injury increases the risk of dementia risk in later life, but scientists are still trying to understand the biological changes that cause this to happen.

Brain scan of a nine year old after exercise Researchers in the US have taken us a step closer to understanding this link and potential future treatment, by studying the tiny particles secreted from the activated immune cells (microglia) of mice when traumatic brain injury occurs. Reported in the Journal of Neuroinflammation, the team from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore have discovered that these micro particles have receptors that latch onto cells, and are full of chemicals which cause inflammation. Crucially they found that the particles not only spread inflammation beyond the site of the original injury, but can also cause brain inflammation when injected into uninjured animals. The team then went onto look at how the spread of inflammation can be prevented or curtailed. A co-author of the study has developed an agent called PEG-TB which, in research on pigs, has been shown to target and destroy particles; so reducing the impact and extent of inflammation. Reported in the New Scientist, Marie-Ève Tremblay of Laval University in Canada, who last year discovered unusual microglia that could be linked with dementia, said: “The effect of these particles in driving inflammation even in animals without traumatic brain injury is convincing.” She added: “I wonder if they might be counterbalanced by anti-inflammatory and pro-repair effects of other micro particle subsets.”
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