What is it about?

The cerebellum, or the little brain, has strikingly different cell types and cell organisation compared with the cerebrum. When an infant is born premature (before 37 of 40 weeks of pregnancy) the cerebellum is often damaged. Brain damage in preterm born infants often leads to life long neurological changes, including cerebral palsy, autism and learning and memory deficits. We have no treatments for brain damage in preterm born infants and a limited understanding the fundamental changes in the cerebellum to guide therapy development. We investigated how the immune cells of the cerebellum were impacted in a model of brain injury in the preterm born infant. We found that these immune microglia had a different response to microglia in the cerebrum, using a molecular pathway called interferon y and remaining in an immune-reactive state for many weeks.

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Why is it important?

By identifying differences and similarities between the responses of the brain to injury we can decide on what molecular pathways are safe and potentially useful to target. The persistence of changes to the immune microglia is key, as by normalizing these cells we have an opportunity to help the brain regain healthy function even long after birth.


Our study is one of many hundreds showcasing that exactly where and exactly when the brain is injured determines the response. This makes developing drugs more complex, we can’t use a blanket, or one size fits all approach. However, bioengineering approaches, such as nanoparticles are exploding onto the field, and these may allow us in the future to deliver to certain cell types, in certain regions specific agents to modulate cell heath and improve outcomes for people with brain injury.

Lab head - Perinatal Brain Injury Lab Bobbi Fleiss
RMIT University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: A unique cerebellar pattern of microglia activation in a mouse model of encephalopathy of prematurity, Glia, May 2022, Wiley,
DOI: 10.1002/glia.24190.
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