How the brain drains
A cluster of fluid-draining vessels at the base of the rodent skull help clear the brain of proteins and other large molecules. With advanced age, however, this exit route for cerebrospinal fluid loses its integrity, trapping behind toxic proteins that contribute to neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
A team led by researchers at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology used various imaging techniques to show that lymphatic vessels in the brain’s outer membrane at the base of the skull, but not in the upper part, had specialized valves and junctions that allowed fluid to empty directly into collecting vessels outside the central nervous system.
These vessels became larger and dysfunctional with age, which could explain impaired drainage in older animals. This suggests that therapeutically promoting fluid outflow in the elderly brain could help combat age-related neurodegeneration.
- Nature 572, 62–66 (2019). doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1419-5