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IBS finds drainage route of brain waste causing Alzheimer’s (July 25)

- IBS researchers discovers drainage function of meningeal lymphatic vessels and deteriorated function with age

- Published in Nature, presenting fresh direction for neurodegenerative disease treatment

The IBS research team of the Center for Vascular Research led by professor Koh Gou Young at KAIST, identifying the so-called “hotspots” of the clearance of brain waste causing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s for the first time.

o The researchers’ animal testing found out that the major route to pump out cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) containing brain debris is the meningeal lymphatic system at the base of the skull, and also found that the function of meningeal lymphatic vessels (mLVs) deteriorates over time.

*Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF): a body fluid that protects the brain and drains waste products, playing an important role in maintaining homeostasis.

o This study found out the exact location and function of mLVs on the basal side of the skull and the changes caused by aging, which will be a new milestone in neurodegenerative disease research including Alzheimer’s.

o The MSIT and IBS said that the findings were published in the online edition of Nature (IF 43.070), 2 am on July 25 (Korean time).

Metabolic activities in the brain result in a considerable amount of byproducts, which are moved out to the central nervous system as CSF is ushered through the brain. The accumulation of waste products such as amyloid-beta amyloid and tau protein leads to cognitive decline such as memory loss and increases the risks of dementia.

*The central nervous system (CNS): the part of the nervous system consisting of the brain and spinal cord, accounting for the largest part of the nervous system.

o Since mLVs are entangled with other blood vessels in the hard skull, it was difficult to obtain an accurate observation to visualize the exact drainage route of CSF.

o The research team sliced the skull of mice for accurate observation and used fluorescence microcopy to characterize the morphology of the mLVs in the dorsal and basal skull, finding out for the first time that lymphatic vessels located in the basal parts of the skull are hotspots for the clearance of CSF macromolecules.

o The research team also conducted an experiment to identify the structure and function of mLVs of aged mice and observed the swelling of the meningeal lymphatics and impeded drainage of CSF.

The study is assessed to have set a fresh direction to treat neurodegenerative diseases such as cognitive decline and Alzheimer's, by discovering the drainage route of brain waste products that impede the brain functions and cause diseases and identifying the structural and functional deterioration with age.

o Professor Koh said that “inventing a treatment to improve the drainage function of mLVs on the basal side of the skull will present a clue to address new neurodegenerative diseases.”

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