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Communication between the immune system, brain structure and memory

April 28, 2017 15:56

26/04/2017 13:28

In two separate studies, scientists from the University of Basel have shown that the structure of the brain and memory function associated with the genes of the immune system. The results of research published in the scientific journal Nature Communications and Nature Human Behavior.

The immune system performs functions such as protection against bacteria and cancer cells. However, the human brain is separated from the immune cells in the blood stream the blood-brain barrier. This barrier protects the brain from pathogens and toxins, circulating in the blood, and divides the immune cells in the human body, those which function in the blood, and those who work directly in the brain. It was believed that brain function is independent of the peripheral immune system.

Nevertheless, we found evidence that the immune system of blood affects the brain. Molecular and Cognitive Neurosciences conducted two studies showing that the relationship between the immune system and the brain is more significant than previously thought.

In the first study, researchers searched for epigenetic profiles in the blood of 533 healthy young people. In searching the genome, they identified an epigenetic profile, which is closely related to the thickness of the cerebral cortex, especially in an area that is important for memory functions. This finding is confirmed by the study of more 596 people. It showed that these genes are responsible for the regulation of immune function in the blood, that explain the link between epigenetic profile and the features of the brain.

The second study examined the genomes of healthy participants who remembered the negative image; TROVE2 gene variant, whose role in immunological diseases studied, related to the ability of the participants to remember a large number of negative images, while the total memory it remained unchanged. This gene variant leads to increased activity in certain areas of the brain that are important for the memory of emotional experiences. The researchers found that the gene is associated with traumatic memories of survivors of traumatic events.

The results of two studies show that the structure of the brain and memory associated with genes that perform the functions of immune regulation in the blood. "Although the exact mechanisms of links that we have found, still need to learn, we hope that this will lead to new therapies," - says Professor Andreas Papassotiropulos from Basel University.



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