Researchers Find Missing Link Between the Brain and Immune System | Neuroscience News

In a stunning discovery that overturns decades of textbook teaching,
researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have
determined that the brain is directly connected to the immune system by
vessels previously thought not to exist. That such vessels could have
escaped detection when the lymphatic system has been so thoroughly
mapped throughout the body is surprising on its own, but the true
significance of the discovery lies in the effects it could have on the
study and treatment of neurological diseases ranging from autism to
Alzheimer’s disease to multiple sclerosis.

Here's the Nature paper:-

Structural and functional features of central nervous system lymphatic vessels

One of the characteristics of the central nervous system is the lack of a classical lymphatic drainage system. Although it is now accepted that the central nervous system undergoes constant immune surveillance that takes place within the meningeal compartment1, 2, 3, the mechanisms governing the entrance and exit of immune cells from the central nervous system remain poorly understood4, 5, 6. In searching for T-cell gateways into and out of the meninges, we discovered functional lymphatic vessels lining the dural sinuses. These structures express all of the molecular hallmarks of lymphatic endothelial cells, are able to carry both fluid and immune cells from the cerebrospinal fluid, and are connected to the deep cervical lymph nodes. The unique location of these vessels may have impeded their discovery to date, thereby contributing to the long-held concept of the absence of lymphatic vasculature in the central nervous system. The discovery of the central nervous system lymphatic system may call for a reassessment of basic assumptions in neuroimmunology and sheds new light on the aetiology of neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases associated with immune system dysfunction.

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