UVic PhD student Patrick Reeson (front) and neuroscientist Craig Brown discuss images related to their brain health research. (Courtesy Craig Brown)

Breakthrough in brain health thanks to UVic researchers

New insights into clogged brain blood vessels and why we lose them

Scientists have known for years that blood vessel loss in the brain is a factor in cognitive decline, but there was mystery around why we lose them. New research at the University of Victoria has provided an explanation. This vital knowledge could one day lead to preventive and protective strategies for maintaining brain health.

The human brain contains millions of capillaries, the brain’s smallest blood vessels. These tiny capillaries regularly get clogged by cells and debris in the blood, but most clear within seconds to minutes. What happens to the ones that remain stuck was unknown until UVic neuroscientist Craig Brown and PhD student Patrick Reeson recently discovered that about 30 per cent of these clogged capillaries were pruned from the blood vessel network and never replaced.

While the human brain contains millions of capillaries, losing them is obviously a concern when it comes to brain health, says Brown, a researcher in UVic’s Division of Medical Science. Given that he and Reeson saw no evidence in their research of new capillaries springing up to replace clogged ones, Brown notes that identifying preventive and protective measures to hold onto the ones we have is essential.

“It will be important to identify new strategies to treat this problem, especially in certain conditions or situations where there is a higher risk of clogged blood vessels in the brain,” says Brown, pointing out that stroke, heart attacks and long periods under anesthesia during surgery are known risks for affecting blood flow in the brain.

“Understanding how and why you lose these capillaries is the first step. This is the first time that we’ve been able explain why this loss of blood vessels occurs,” says Reeson.

Further research into the protein’s role in the pruning process will deepen knowledge and inform future treatment approaches, says Reeson.

Just Posted

B.C. Lions hype-man marks 15 years of cheers

Crazy P cheers, chants, bangs his drum and spreads a message of love

Saanich Peninsula Hospital Foundation looks to grow funding for memory garden

Foundation will start new campaign next month as it wraps up recruitment campaign

Survey says 27% of Victoria employers look to hire this quarter

Another 13 % of employers anticipate cutbacks

UPDATED: Heavy police presence in Victoria had part of Bay Street blocked off

Bay Street east of Quadra Street was blocked off on Saturday

VIDEO: A moment to remember during the World Lacrosse Men’s Indoor Championship in B.C.

Diego Hernandez Valenzuela’s team lost, but he felt like a winner Saturday

PHOTOS: Steller sea lion with plastic around neck rescued on Vancouver Island

Rescue staff determined the plastic band cut the protected animal’s neck approximately two inches

B.C. VIEWS: School officials join fact-free ‘climate strike’

Students, public get distorted picture of greenhouse gases

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Iconic 90s TV show ‘Friends’ celebrates 25th anniversary

The iconic, decade-long television show aired its first episode 25 years ago today

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Air Canada forced girl, 12, to remove hijab: civil rights group

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for change

Most Read