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Study: Gelatin Aids Healing of Blood Brain Barrier in Brain Injury

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Research conducted at Lund University in Sweden revealed beneficial effects of gelatin following traumatic brain injury. The inherent ability of gelatin coatings to reduce adverse immune responses to neurological implants has been recognized for some time, but the explanation of why has been elusive.

The researchers discovered that gelatin protected the blood brain barrier (BBB) from potentially damaging foreign molecules and cells, thus aiding recovery. The BBB consists of a collection of vessels that separate the blood circulation of the body from the sensitive brain.

Gelatin Reduces Brain Infiltration

Researchers surgically inserted a needle, with and without gelatin coating, into the brain of rats, creating a penetrating brain injury model.

The researchers could establish the integrity of the BBB, by the amounts of infiltrating antibody immunoglobulin G (IgG) that increased without the presence of gelatin. An inflammatory and damaging immune response resulted from the presence of antibodies in the blood within the brain tissue.

An increase in the proportion of ED1 positive microglia when gelatin was not integrated indicated the presence of inflammatory response. These microglia associated with a high proportion of ED1 proteins are damaging as they indicate an overactive glial cell, which is associated with phagocytic and damaging action.

On the contrary the proportionally elevated level of lba1 positive microglia indicates anti-inflammatory, neuro-protective, microglial properties.

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"When we used gelatin, we saw only a small number of the inflammatory microglial cells. Instead we observed cells of a different kind, that are anti-inflammatory, which we believe could be significant in accelerating healing," explained researcher Lucas Kumosa.

"Gelatin is a protein and its decomposition releases amino-acids that we believe could promote the reconstruction of blood vessels and tissue," Jens Schouenborg, professor of neurophysiology at Lund University, explained.

Additional Protection of Gelatin

Another protective function of gelatin is as a substrate for matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). Following damage to the brain and BBB, these MMPs are up regulated but likely to cause unintended damage to the surrounding environment and key BBB cell proteins.

Extracellular matrix (ECM) and BBB proteins are protected from degradation by inhibiting the negative effects of MMP's.

Prospective Uses

Improved surgical outcomes may be one of the future benefits of gelatin. The form of injury that occurs during surgery is similar to the stab wounds inflicted in the subjects.

Researchers suggest that the gelatin coating could be used for medical device implantation, and to reduce negative tissue reactions resulting from transplantation. They also suggest that further experiments with a chronic implant instead of the stab wound, would provide insight into the beneficial effects on chronic exposure.

Other diseases may also be impacted from this this study. Diseases such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease as well as traumatic brain injury commonly involve brain barrier dysfunction.

A wide range of neurodegenerative and other diseases may receive beneficial effects of gelatin on the BBB and the anti-inflammatory response from microglia.

Current research on how electrodes implanted in the brain used in treatment of various diseases such as Parkinson's disease or epilepsy is promising, but a major challenge has been to find methods of reducing damage to the implant areas.

"Although the research field of brain electrodes is promising, it has been a challenge to find solutions that don't damage brain tissue. Knowledge of how injuries heal faster with gelatin could therefore be significant for the development of surgical treatment as well." Jens Schouenborg said.

Brain Injury Lawyer

If you or someone you care about has suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), you may be entitled to significant compensation. The cost of a traumatic brain injury over a lifetime can be astronomical. Contact an experienced brain injury attorney at Vititoe Law Group for a free evaluation of your case. We can help you recover the money you deserve.

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