Inflammation to Rebuild a Brain

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Science  07 Dec 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6112, pp. 1303-1304
DOI: 10.1126/science.1232331

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The overarching strategy of all immune systems is as predictable as the plot of an episode of Mission: Impossible. A short-lived message describing the problem reaches commanding immune cells. A team of specialized expert cells is then dispatched to deal with the problem. Once successfully addressed, the team disappears without leaving a trace. On page 1353 of this issue, Kyritsis et al. (1) characterize an astonishing type of immune response—a new team of “executioner” cells—that is implemented when the zebrafish brain is injured. By tricking the immune system into believing neuronal injury had occurred, the authors discovered that inflammation alone is sufficient to switch on neurogenesis. The molecular components used by the highly specialized immune cells that promote neurogenesis represent potential novel therapeutic targets that could promote brain repair.