thanks for linking this. What I found strange about the press release was how the researchers were calling this an "autoimmune" reaction, and likening it to MS. We don't call the same reaction in stroke "autoimmune." Me thinks they might be looking for a larger market share for MS drugs. Tysabri infusion prescribed after a head injury? Or for people with Alzheimer's? Hate to be a cynic, but I'm afraid this is where we're headed. The truth is, we still don't understand the blood brain barrier, and what is a protective reaction and what is injurious.
The immune system can play both detrimental and beneficial roles in the nervous system. Multiple arms of the immune system, including T cells, B cells, NK cells, mast cells, macrophages, dendritic cells, microglia, antibodies, complement and cytokines participate in limiting damage to the nervous system during toxic, ischemic, hemorrhagic, infective, degenerative, metabolic and immune-mediated insults and also assist in the process of repair after injury has occurred. Immune cells have been shown to produce neurotrophic growth factors and interact with neurons and glial cells to preserve them from injury and stimulate growth and repair. The immune system also appears to participate in proliferation of neural progenitor stem cells and their migration to sites of injury. Neural stem cells can also modify the immune response in the central and peripheral nervous system to enhance neuroprotective effects. Evidence for protective and reparative functions of the immune system has been found in diverse neurologic diseases including traumatic injury, ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, multiple sclerosis, infection, and neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).
I guess the larger point might be--shouldn't we understand this immune reaction-which happens in trauma, stroke, and MS- in more depth before calling it "autoimmune"? Especially since it is repairing neurons and glial cells? The idea that the body is simply attacking itself, and this is bad is simply not true. The reality is more complex, and deserves more understanding before prescribing serious immune modulating therapies.