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Infection and Multiple Sclerosis: Inflammation in the brain as a balancing act

Prof. Dr. Ingo Bechmann, Institute for Neuroanatomy, on May 07, 2007

Inflammation serves to eliminate infectious pathogens and stimulate regeneration of the body, but it also causes considerable collateral damage. To maintain a healthy cost – benefit ratio, the control of immune cells is organ specific. In organs that are good at forming new cells, immune cells “are allowed” to completely eliminate all infected cells. In contrast, a compromise must be made in poorly regenerating organs. The brain, where individual cells may be particularly important due to their integration in neural networks, is an ideal example of the need for immunological tolerance. We are only beginning to understand the fascinating immunoregulation in the brain, and can start to re-interpret diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis as faulty regulation of these underlying mechanisms.

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