Immune response to injury may damage brain: Study

New York: Can our immune system trigger memory impairment and cognitive dysfunction leading to chronic neurological diseases? Researchers at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio believe so.

The study focuses on the role of a protein known as S100B that serves as a biomarker for brain damage.

Normally, S100B is found only in the brain and spinal column.

However, following a brain injury, it can leak through the blood-brain barrier into the blood.

Once S100B enters the bloodstream, it is identified as an intruder by the immune system that releases antibodies to attack the protein.

"Our results show an unexpected role for S100B in the regulation of a neuro-immune response, connecting the function of the brain to the immune system," said Damir Janigro, a molecular medicine researcher at Cleveland Clinic's Lerner Research Institute.

Uptake of S100B was prominent in cells that are known to be involved in regulating immune responses.

"Repeated increases of S100B - whether due to epileptic seizures, Alzheimer's disease or repeated hits to the head in sporting events - may thus become boosters of an auto-immune response against the brain which may slowly but inexorably result in chronic neurological disease," Janigro said.

If further research confirms the findings, treatments for brain injury may include anti-inflammatory therapy to decrease the auto-immune response, the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, said.