By: Nicola Davis | Study offers fresh hope to premature babies with brain injuries | Neuroscience | The Guardian
Researchers say they have identified ‘immune switch’ that can trigger long-term damage
A potential route to reducing brain injury in premature babies has been found, say researchers who have discovered a way to tackle overactive immune cells in the brain.
Microglia are a type of immune cell that play an important part in the building of a baby’s brain. However, if these cells go into overdrive as a result of inflammation – often because of a bacterial infection of the foetal membranes, a maternal infection or even sepsis after delivery of the baby – they can cause harm to the child’s brain. In particular, they can damage white matter, reducing the degree to which neurons are insulated and thereby affecting connectivity in the brain.