Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Neurons help flush waste out of our brains during sleep

More information (summarized here) on what is happening in our brains while we sleep is provided by Jiang-Xie et al.,, who show that active neurons can stimulate the clearance of their own metabolic waste by driving changes to ion gradients in the surrounding fluid and by promoting the pulsation of nearby blood vessels.  Here is the Jiang-Xie et al.abstract:

The accumulation of metabolic waste is a leading cause of numerous neurological disorders, yet we still have only limited knowledge of how the brain performs self-cleansing. Here we demonstrate that neural networks synchronize individual action potentials to create large-amplitude, rhythmic and self-perpetuating ionic waves in the interstitial fluid of the brain. These waves are a plausible mechanism to explain the correlated potentiation of the glymphatic flow through the brain parenchyma. Chemogenetic flattening of these high-energy ionic waves largely impeded cerebrospinal fluid infiltration into and clearance of molecules from the brain parenchyma. Notably, synthesized waves generated through transcranial optogenetic stimulation substantially potentiated cerebrospinal fluid-to-interstitial fluid perfusion. Our study demonstrates that neurons serve as master organizers for brain clearance. This fundamental principle introduces a new theoretical framework for the functioning of macroscopic brain waves.

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