Date: March 14, 2016
A biological process in the brains of zebra finches shows that the songbirds respond quickly to trauma and are capable of controlling the natural inflammation that occurs to protect the brain from injury.
Understanding the process well enough could lead to therapies in humans to control inflammation and hasten recovery from brain injury such as stroke, said American University Prof. Colin Saldanha, whose study "Centrally Synthesized Estradiol is a Potent Anti-Inflammatory in the Injured Zebra Finch Brain" has published in Endocrinology here. Through experiments, Saldanha and his colleagues found that estrogen-producing glial cells play a role in the rapid response.
"The most surprising thing to me is that the inflammation control is happening within hours, and that estrogen is made in the brain around an injury site in response to an injury," Saldanha said. "These animals have evolved a mechanism to protect their brains from injury very quickly."
Preserving brain function
Inflammation is a normal part of the body's immune response. It affects the brain differently compared with other parts of the body. In the brain, too much inflammation can cause degenerative effects, or in the worst case scenario, death. Chronic inflammation causes cell damage and the loss of important neurons that regulate memory, mood and movement. Being able to control and limit inflammation in an injured brain may preserve vital brain function.