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New Research Reveals Hidden Link Between Brain & Immune

Researchers from the University of Virginia have finally identified a direct link between the brain and the immune system. What they found were lymphatic ducts in the meninges (protective sheath that covers brain and spinal cord). Lymphatic ducts are like blood vessels, but instead of carrying blood cells, they transport a variety of immune related cells.  These anatomical structures were not previously known  to exist and it has long been unclear as to how the brain and the immune system are connected.

 “The discovery of the central nervous system lymphatic system may call for a reassessment of basic assumptions in neuroimmunology and sheds new light on the aetiology of neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases associated with immune system dysfunction.”

With this new understanding,  new avenues could open for understanding autism, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and many other diseases. The study’s lead author, Jonathan Kipnis, a professor in UVA’s Department of Neurosciences and the director of UVA’s Center for Brain Immunology, expounded on the impacts of the discovery:

“We believe that for every neurological disease that has an immune component to it, these vessels may play a major role. Hard to imagine that these vessels would not be involved in a [neurological] disease with an immune component… In Alzheimer’s, there are accumulations of big protein chunks in the brain. We think they may be accumulating in the brain because they’re not being efficiently removed by these vessels.”

Here you can see how the Dura mater (meninges) surround the spinal cord.

Here you can see how the Dura mater (meninges) surround the spinal cord.

It has been understood for decades that certain forms of spinal dysfunction can create tension on and even impinge upon parts of the meninges (also known as dura mater/dural tissue). Upper neck misalignments can create significant tension on dural tissue in that area. Also, loss or reversal of the natural neck curve, often evidenced by a forward head posture, has been documented to create significant tension on the dural tissue as well. If either of these issues are allowed to remain unaddressed they often can result in cervical disc bulges or herniations which can physically pinch against the dural tissue.

Loss of natural neck curve in 37yo male creates pathological tension on the dura and leads to visible arthritic changes,

Loss of natural neck curve in 37 year old male creates pathological tension on the dura and leads to visible arthritic changes.

Anterior view of upper cervical spine in a 14 year old female shows aggressive angulation at junction of the skull and spine which results in significant irritation to neurological tissue and dural tissue.

Anterior view of upper cervical spine in a 14 year old female shows aggressive angulation at junction of the skull and spine which results in significant irritation to neurological tissue and dural tissue.

 

It is scenarios like these that can create opportunity for the lymphatic ducts in the dural tissue to become impeded or obstructed and disrupt the natural flow of immune cells to and from the brain. As Dr. Kipnis predicts, long term disruption in the proper lymph flow of the brain could potentially be part of the underlying cause of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and others.

One of the major challenges that are included with problems like these is that the structural damage usually exists for many years before symptoms start. Unless you know what to look for, it would likely go completely unnoticed. The longer the spine is in a state of misalignment, the more likely it is to become permanent and the more difficult it becomes to correct.

With this understanding, It is critical to be checked by a qualified chiropractor to prevent huge health challenges in the future. It is also imperative that the chiropractor take appropriate x-rays and measure them in a way that allows specific understanding of the underlying misalignment. If you would like to discuss this with Dr. Biggs, please call our office at 561-791-2225. We can also assist in finding a referral for a qualified chiropractor in your area.

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Andrew Biggs, D.C.

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