It is believed that toxic molecules involved in neurodegenerative disorders accumulate in the space between brain cells. In a new study funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), part of the NIH, researchers hoped to discover mechanisms by which these toxins are cleared from the brain. Using mice, researchers showed for the first time that the space between brain cells may increase during sleep, allowing the brain to flush out toxins that build up during waking hours. To determine whether the glymphatic system controls this process, researchers initially injected dye into the CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) of mice and watched it flow through their brains while simultaneously monitoring electrical brain activity.
Scientists watched dye flow through the brain of a sleeping mouse.
Courtesy of Nedergaard Lab, University of Rochester Medical Center.