AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 3, 2018

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Researchers Identify Brain Cells Responsible for Removing Damaged Neurons After Injury

Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have discovered that microglia, specialized immune cells in the brain, play a key role in clearing dead material after brain injury. The study reveals that microglia gobble up the remnants of injured neurons, which could prevent the damage from spreading to neighboring neurons and causing more extensive neurodegeneration.

In every tissue of the body, dead and dying cells must quickly be removed to prevent the development of inflammation, which could trigger the death of neighboring cells. This removal is carried out by specialized cells that engulf and break down cellular debris, otherwise known as phagocytic cells. But scientists have yet to determine which cells are responsible for removing neuronal debris when the brain or spinal cord is damaged.

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