Newly Discovered Blood Vessels Beneath Skull Link Brain And Immune System, Link To Alzheimer’s?

Scientists at the University of Virginia have discovered a network of blood vessels beneath the skull not known to previously exist, which is a medical scientific discovery which may shed light on the link between poor overall health and the development of Alzheimer’s Disease, as well as other neuro/psychiatric disorders including clinical depression, said Jonathan Kipnis, who led the work at the University of Virginia.

“These vessels were just not supposed to be there based on what we know. I thought the body was mapped and that these discoveries ended somewhere around the middle of the last century. But apparently they have not. We believe that for every neurological disease that has an immune component to it, these vessels may play a major role. In Alzheimer’s, there are accumulations of big protein chunks in the brain. We think they may be accumulating in the brain because they’re not being efficiently removed by these vessels.”

Of course, this not only changes the information in medical textbooks, this may change the way that clinicians treat patients with specific diseases, including diabetes mellitus, which is known to damage blood vessels over time, and these blood vessels underneath the skull would not be exempt from this complication. It is already known that people with diabetes, an auto-immune disease, are 65 percent more likely to develop dementia. Other recent research showed that Alzheimer’s patients who suffered regular infections, such as coughs and colds, had four times a greater decline in memory tests during a six-month period after the infection when compared with patients with the lowest infection levels.

The discovery of a new piece of brain anatomy was a rare phenomenon, something that greatly excited researchers studying the effects of immunology on the brain. Kevin Lee, a neuroscientist at the University of Virginia, admitted that the way that medical schools have been teaching neurology and immunology may need to change in light of the discovery.

“The first time these guys showed me the basic result, I just said one sentence: ‘They’ll have to change the textbooks.’ There has never been a lymphatic system for the central nervous system, and it was very clear from that first singular observation.”

While it may be difficult for the average layperson to understand the nuances of this discovery, the implications for studying disease control is immense and may assist with longevity and quality of life, two hot topics in medicine today.

[Image via Medical News]