A study published in the journal Science revealed the discovery of a new structure in the brain: the SLYM (Subarachnoid Membrane Lymph Type). It is a protective barrier, able to monitor infections and inflammations.
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As the article points out, the structure is located within the subarachnoid space, an opening between two membranes called the pia mater and arachnoid mater — tissues that create a barrier between the central nervous system and the rest of the body. The space is filled with cerebrospinal fluid, which helps cushion the brain and acts as a source of nutrients.
The researchers’ theory is that SLYM acts precisely as a barrier between the cerebrospinal fluid that enters the brain and that which leaves the organ, dragging along protein residues. This means that a deterioration of this membrane hinders the cleaning of the brain and negatively impacts neuronal function.
“The discovery of a new anatomical structure that secretes and helps control the flow of cerebrospinal fluid in and around the brain now provides us with a much greater appreciation of the sophisticated role that fluid plays not only in transporting and removing waste from the brain, but also in supporting their immune defenses”, point out the researchers.
It is therefore possible to understand that SLYM plays an important role in the brain’s defenses. The central nervous system maintains its own native population of immune cells, and membrane integrity prevents outside immune cells from entering.
Furthermore, the researchers say that the discovery of SLYM opens the door to further study of its role in brain diseases. The group notes that larger and more diverse concentrations of immune cells gather at the membrane during inflammation and aging. When the membrane is ruptured during a traumatic brain injury, the resulting interruption in CSF flow impairs the glymphatic system and allows immune cells from the peripheral nervous system to enter the brain.
Source: Science via SciTech Daily