Those crafty mice are at it again. Their brains are showing researchers a direct link between immune cells and how the brain is wired. A new NIH/Harvard study in Boston shows that immune cells in the mouse brain appear to clear out excess brain cells that are not being used to make neural connections, thereby getting rid of “clutter” and making the brain wiring process more efficient. They call it a “pruning” of unproductive cells. If mouse findings are translatable to humans, these brain-based immune-cell pruners can impact the long-term development of the brain.
My layman’s conjecture from all of this: 1) Since research shows a mother’s immune health status can be imparted to her unborn baby, this is all the more reason for moms to have as healthy of immune function as possible. It certainly can impact lifelong health of the baby, and with this research in mind, may impact the baby’s brain development. 2) A healthy, balanced immune system is something I’d want if I knew that my immune cell worker bees were busy fine-tuning my brain. Balance? There’s no research I’ve seen measuring immune “balance” in the brain, but if the balance equation for seasonal illness holds true (attack and/or back off when appropriate), I’d want to a least think there’s a chance that same optimal balance is holding true upstairs as well. Don’t want immune cells getting over-aggressive in my cranium.