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NC State Researcher Finds MARCKS Protein May Help Protect Brain Cells from Age Damage

Artistic rendition of ependymal cells building up lipid droplets (round objects) during aging.

Artistic rendition of ependymal cells building up lipid droplets (round objects) during aging.

The following article by Tracey Peake, reprinted from The Abstract: NC State’s research blog, concerns research by neurobiologist Troy Ghashghaei of the Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences in NC State’s College of Veterinary Medicine. 

A common protein, when produced by specialized barrier cells in the brain, could help protect the brain from damage due to aging. This protein – MARCKS – may act as both a bouncer and a housekeeping service, by helping clear away proteins and keeping the cell barrier intact, and its absence in these cells weakens their ability to serve as a barrier and transport system for cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the brain.

Your brain doesn’t just sit in your skull like play-doh in its plastic case. It’s surrounded and cushioned by CSF, a clear, colorless fluid produced in the brain that circulates nutrients and chemicals taken from blood throughout the brain. CSF also removes waste products and sends them back out to the bloodstream for disposal.

Like blood, CSF only circulates through certain channels. Ependymal cells are the specialized cells that serve as both the barrier to keep the CSF running through its channels and as the transport system that moves various molecules between the brain and the CSF.

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