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Homescience▷a messenger between the gut and the brain

▷a messenger between the gut and the brain

07.09.2021 – 10:27

Technical University of Munich

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press release

A messenger between the gut and the brain

First appeared: T cells migrate from the gut and skin to the central nervous system

It has long been known that there is a link between the gut microbiome and the central nervous system (CNS). However, it has not yet been possible to show immune cells migrating from the intestine to the central nervous system and thus to the brain. A research team in Munich has now been able to make T-cell migration visible for the first time with violet light – thus laying the groundwork for new treatment options for diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or cancer.

The relationship between the gut microbiome and the central nervous system, the so-called “intestinal axis”, is responsible for many things: a person’s weight, autoimmune disease, depression, mental illness or Alzheimer’s disease. The fact that researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the LMU Hospital in Munich have now been able to make this connection visible for the first time gives cause for hope – for people with MS, for example: Therapies can now be adapted and T cells possibly even before they reach the brain to be changed.

Migration of immune cells in MS

The immune system is affected by environmental factors – in patients with MS also the central nervous system. You experience relapses of this autoimmune disease over and over – your MS gets better or worse. In patients with multiple sclerosis, T cells collect information and transmit it to the central nervous system, that is, to the brain and spinal cord, where an immune reaction is triggered. How and from what starting point the T cells actually enter the central nervous system, however, was not clear for a long time.

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Marked T cells were imaged with violet light

The team led by Thomas Korn, professor of experimental neuroimmunology at TUM, has developed a way to label immune cells in mice with photosynthetic proteins. T cells can be made visible with violet light. The researchers succeeded in doing this using a mouse model of the lymph nodes in the intestine and skin. This enabled the team to visually track how the T cells migrate from there into the central nervous system.

Characteristics of T cells reveal their origin

T cells from the skin have migrated to the gray and white matter of the central nervous system, and T cells from the intestine are almost exclusively to the white matter. The origin of T cells in the brain can still be read. “These findings are very important because it was shown for the first time that environmental influences shape T cells in the intestine or cutaneous lymph nodes and then transmit this information to distant organs,” says Professor Thomas Korn. Dr. explains. Eduardo Beltrán, who contributed greatly to the bioinformatic analysis of the examined immune cells.

Starting point for future therapies

An important finding for patients with multiple sclerosis: “If you know if gut cells or skin cells are causing the disease, you can treat T cells at the onset of the disease and predict the development of chronic inflammation and autoimmunity,” explains Michael Hiltzenberger, first author of the study. The findings could also represent a breakthrough in treatment for other autoimmune diseases or cancer.

HD picture:


University Prof. Doctor. Thomas Corn

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Al-Haq Hospital in Isar

from the Technical University of Munich

Head of the Department of Experimental Neuroimmunology

Deputy Director of the Neurological Clinic

Tel .: +49-89-4140-5617

or +49-89-4140-4606 (Secretariat of Organic Agriculture)

Email: [email protected]

Die Technische Universität München (TUM) ist mit mehr als 600 Professorinnen und Professoren, 45.000 Studierenden sowie 11.000 Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeitern eine der forschungsstärksten Technischen Universitäten Europas. Ihre Schwerpunkte sind die Ingenieurwissenschaften, Naturwissenschaften, Lebenswissenschaften und Medizin, verknüpft mit den Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften. Die TUM handelt als unternehmerische Universität, die Talente fördert und Mehrwert für die Gesellschaft schafft. Dabei profitiert sie von starken Partnern in Wissenschaft und Wirtschaft. Weltweit ist sie mit dem Campus TUM Asia in Singapur sowie Verbindungsbüros in Brüssel, Mumbai, Peking, San Francisco und São Paulo vertreten. An der TUM haben Nobelpreisträger und Erfinder wie Rudolf Diesel, Carl von Linde und Rudolf Mößbauer geforscht. 2006, 2012 und 2019 wurde sie als Exzellenzuniversität ausgezeichnet. In internationalen Rankings gehört sie regelmäßig zu den besten Universitäten Deutschlands.

Zoe Barker
Zoe Barker
"Writer. Analyst. Avid travel maven. Devoted twitter guru. Unapologetic pop culture expert. General zombie enthusiast."

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