Brain's Sewer System

Like the saying goes, everybody poops. Even your brain. But how does the brain get rid of its waste? Researchers have just discovered the mechanism: a "cleansing river" inside the brain that flush away waste.

In most of the body, a network of vessels carry lymph, a fluid that removes excess plasma, dead blood cells, debris and other waste. But the brain is different. Instead of lymph, the brain is bathed in cerebrospinal fluid. For decades, however, neuroscientists have assumed that this fluid simply carries soluble waste by slowly diffusing through tissues, then shipping its cargo out of the nervous system and eventually into the body's bloodstream. Determining what's really going on has been impossible until recently.

In this study, researchers led by U.R. neuroscientist Maiken Nedergaard have identified a second, faster brain-cleansing system. Nedergaard an expert in non-neuronal brain cells called glia, has long suspected that these cells might play a role in brain cleansing.

Link (Image: J. Iliff and M. Nedergaard)


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