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Post Head Trauma, Immune System Kills Brain Cells

Update Date: Oct 20, 2014 03:48 PM EDT

The body's immune system worsens a head injury by killing brain cells and stopping the immune system from doing so, resulted in better treatment outcomes.

These conclusions were result of a study by Texas A& M researchers in mice. Researchers used 32 mice in their experiments and found that immune system can attack the brain following the breakdown of the blood-brain barrier. By making immune system control part of the treatment regimen, brain lesions in the mice appeared smaller, Financial Express reported.

The study began with a hypothesis that mice missing a key immune component, CD74, would suffer little to none brain damage from trauma. CD74 breaks down into smaller components that bind to immune response proteins and activate a specific type of immune cells called the T-cells. T-cells work to rid the body of damaged tissue.

The researchers compared brain lesion sizes CD74 deficient and normal mice which were given saline injection when both set of mice received trauma. They found that CD74 deficient mice had smaller lesions. Next, they gave mice which received trauma CAP treatment which is known to control T-cells.

CAP works by binding to the T-cell initiating proteins, preventing CD74 from functioning.

Researchers found that treated mice had smaller lesions compared to mice which received saline control. The lesion sizes were also similar to those mice which were deficient in CD74. This led the team to conclude that controlling the body's immune response after trauma, can help prevent brain damage.

The research team said their findings require further examination. "While our results are consistent with this hypothesis, the consequences of CAP therapy resulting in neuroprotection require further examination to fully elucidate the precise mechanisms involved," they wrote. 

The findings of the study were published in the journal Acta Neuropathologica Communications.

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