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Researchers discover a new lymphatic brain cell type


Researchers discover a new lymphatic brain cell type

Neil Bower and researchers from the Hogan lab led by Ben Hogan have discovered a new type of lymphatic brain cell in zebrafish, described in humans as 'mato' or lipid laden cells, which clear fats and lipids from the brain. The discovery, a collaboration with researchers from The University of Melbourne, Monash Univeristy and Japan's National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Centre was published in Nature Neuroscience on 1st May.



In an interview for UQ news, A/Prof. Hogan said, "It is rare to discover a cell type in the brain that we didn’t know about previously, and particularly a cell type that we didn’t expect to be there."


"The brain is the only organ without a known lymphatic system, so the fact that these cells are lymphatic in nature and surround the brain makes this finding quite a surprise."


"These cells appear to be the zebrafish version of cells described in humans called “mato” or lipid laden cells, which clear fats and lipids from the system but were not known to be lymphatic in nature."


"When wastes such as excess fats leak out of the bloodstream, it is the job of the lymphatic system to clean them out to avoid damaging our organs."



From UQ News, 2 May 2017, Scientists surprised to discover lymphatic 'scavenger' brain cells


Read the UQ news article





The discovery was featured on 7 international scientific and medical news sites including EurekAlert!MedicalXpressFierce BiotechScience NewslineThe Medical NewsMedical News TodayThe University of Queensland and the scientific blogs Neuroscience News and Brain Blogger.


View all news articles via Nature Neuroscience metrics





Bower NI, Koltowska K, Pichol-Thievend C, Virshup I, Paterson S, Lagendijk AK, Wang W, Lindsey BW, Bent SJ, Baek S, Rondon-Galeano M, Hurley DG, Mochizuki N, Simons C, Francois M, Wells CA, Kaslin J, Hogan BM. 

Mural lymphatic endothelial cells regulate meningeal angiogenesis in the zebrafish. Nature Neuroscience 2017 Jun;20(6):774-783. Pubmed


Mural cells of the vertebrate brain maintain vascular integrity and function, play roles in stroke and are involved in maintenance of neural stem cells. However, the origins, diversity and roles of mural cells remain to be fully understood. Using transgenic zebrafish, we identified a population of isolated mural lymphatic endothelial cells surrounding meningeal blood vessels. These meningeal mural lymphatic endothelial cells (muLECs) express lymphatic endothelial cell markers and form by sprouting from blood vessels. In larvae, muLECs develop from a lymphatic endothelial loop in the midbrain into a dispersed, nonlumenized mural lineage. muLEC development requires normal signaling through the Vegfc-Vegfd-Ccbe1-Vegfr3 pathway. Mature muLECs produce vascular growth factors and accumulate low-density lipoproteins from the bloodstream. We find that muLECs are essential for normal meningeal vascularization. Together, these data identify an unexpected lymphatic lineage and developmental mechanism necessary for establishing normal meningeal blood vasculature.


Read the Nature Neuroscience article




Nature Neuroscience Bower and Hogan 2017

On the Nature Neuroscience cover: major arteries (yellow), surrounded by mural lymphatic endothelial cells (magenta), enter the zebrafish brain ventrally (nuclei are in cyan), while networks of finer blood capillaries permeate the deeper tissue in this cross-section composite image.