Building a Brain Invasion

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Science  13 Mar 2009:
Vol. 323, Issue 5920, pp. 1407
DOI: 10.1126/science.323.5920.1407a

For good reason, our bodies tightly limit the access of immune cells to the brain, where they could do untold harm. However, during certain infections and autoimmune diseases, immune cells can gain access to the brain and cause tissue damage and destruction. In order to better understand how immune cells access the brain and move within it during an infection, Wilson et al. used multiphoton microscopy to visualize the behavior of CD8+ T cells in cerebral cortex slices taken from mice with encephalitis that resulted from Toxoplasma gondii infection. Similar to T cell movements previously observed in lymph nodes, infiltrating CD8+ T cells could be seen to use reticular fiber conduits to move within the brain. In contrast to the lymph node reticular networks that are present in the steady state, the conduits in the brain were observed only in infected mice, suggesting that in immune-privileged tissues such as the brain, scaffolds for lymphocyte motility are induced only under inflammatory conditions. — KLM

Immunity 30, 300 (2009).

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