Atypical astrocytes – brain cells normally involved in damage repair – associated with seizures after brain injury
Over time, traumatic brain injury (TBI) can leave patients with debilitating chronic conditions. For example, epilepsy isn’t always something an individual is born with; seizures can become a regular part of life after brain injury. Scientists have thought that epilepsy acquired after TBI could be related to astrocytes (spidery shapes in the image), the cells in the brain and spinal cord that perform many functions including repairing damage after brain injury. Neuroscientists have recently demonstrated that when mice experience even mild TBI across a widespread area of their brain, they too can go on to develop spontaneous recurring seizures. Delving deeper, the team found the mice that did develop seizures had more atypical astrocytes. The atypical cells didn’t express certain proteins and lacked characteristics typically seen in healthy astrocytes. In future, scientists could use this mouse model of TBI to study how astrocytes contribute to the gradual development of epilepsy after even mild brain injury.
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