MIT Team Reveals What Happens to Brain Immune Cells During Alzheimer’s Development

MIT Team Reveals What Happens to Brain Immune Cells During Alzheimer’s Development
Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have found that Alzheimer's disease causes microglia — the immune cells that normally protect brain cells from damage — to change their behavior and instead promote a pro-inflammatory immune response. Their study, “Temporal Tracking of Microglia Activation in Neurodegeneration at Single-Cell Resolution,” appeared in the journal Cell Reports. “Right now, microglia are really in the spotlight for a number of neuro-system diseases, including Alzheimer’s, and also schizophrenia,” Li-Huei Tsai, director of MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and the study's senior author, said in a news release. “However, there are still a lot of very basic things that we don’t know about microglia, such as whether cells in the healthy and diseased brain are all the same, or whether there are different groups, and how they become more inflammatory in the diseased state.” Microglia cells have been linked to several neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s. However, researchers know little about how this process is regulated. Using the latest technology, the MIT team analyzed the gene expression profiles of individual microglia cells collected from the brains of mice with Alzheimer’s like-disease. The animals were engineered in Tsai’s lab to have a protein called p25 in the brain, which, when activated, triggers symptoms similar to those observed in humans with Alzheimer's. Researchers analyzed the gen
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