New research by Johan Jakobsson and his colleagues published in Nature Communications sheds light on how the brain's guardian cells work.
Researchers know very little about exactly how microglia work. At the same time, there is a lot of curiosity and high hopes among brain researchers that greater understanding of microglia could lead to entirely new drug development strategies for various brain diseases", says Johan Jakobsson, research group leader at the Division of Molecular Neurogenetics at Lund University. What the researchers have now succeeded in identifying is a deviation in the structure of the microglia cells, which makes it possible to visualise them and study their behaviour.
By inserting a luminescent protein controlled by a microscopic molecule, microRNA-9, the researchers can now distinguish the microglia and monitor their function over time in the brains of rats and mice. It has long been known that microglia form the first line of defence of the immune system in diseases of the brain.