Study reveals the nature of immune cells in the human brain

Detailed insights about the location of T cells in the brain.


The immune system ensures the body against contamination and cancer. The supposed T cells assume a key job amid this method. When T cells don’t work legitimately, relate inflammation will grow beyond any doubt in the brain. Until now, there was only a little understanding about the properties of these cells in healthy brains.

Now, in a new study, scientists at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience and Amsterdam UMC have gained detailed insights about the location of T cells in the brain, how they look, what kind of inflammatory proteins (cytokines) they produce, and how they are controlled.

In other words, they have disclosed the nature of how T cells protect the brain against harmful viruses. The results of the study could potentially figure out the role of the immune system in various brain disorders.

Scientists discovered that the two proteins CTLA-4 and PD-1 are present in large quantities on T cells. These proteins are important inhibitors for T cells.

Researcher and neurologist in training Joost Smolders said, “If we understand the rules of the game, which T cells in the brain adhere to, then we can understand how T cells deviate from this in brain disorders. This can lead to advances in the understanding and treatment of diseases such as multiple sclerosis, but also in the treatment of tumors in the brain.”

The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.

With financial support from the MS Research Foundation, the scientists have investigated T cells from brain tissue of brain donors from the Netherlands Brain Bank (NBB). “For the understanding of the role of the immune system in brain disorders, a donor program such as the NBB is of crucial importance. The quality of the material makes unique research possible” says Smolders.

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