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脑袋里的”头发“比脑袋上的头发更重要

每天早上,我们可能都会花几分钟来摆弄我们头顶上的头发,浑然不知我们的脑袋里有着更重要的“头发”。这些“头发”其实是一种在脑室有序排列的有细小毛发状突起的细胞,它们被称为纤毛。这些神秘小特征对人体的作用长期以来一直被科学界所忽视,但一项新的研究证实,它们对人体来说非常重要,甚至可能是人类大脑发育的必需品。

这项研究发表在上周的《当代生物学》杂志上,该研究进一步阐明了这些类似头发的细胞是如何在人体四个充满液体的脑室周围推动液体流动,以此来保持脑脊液在整个睡眠中的持续循环。而这些液体的流动有助于保持人体大脑的健康,促进新神经细胞的形成与发育。

挪威科技大学的高级研究员Nathalie Jurch Yaksi在一份声明中说道:“虽然存在着好几种用来解释的理论,但这么多年来,大部分学者都认为这些液体的循环可以为大脑提供营养,同时清除废物。”

为了深入研究纤毛和脑脊液之间联系,研究人员对斑马鱼进行了研究。斑马鱼是一种经常被用作研究基因和脊椎动物发育的样本生物,因为它们的卵是在母体外受精和发育的,而且它们的基因与人类的有着惊人的相似之处。

研究人员的发现揭示了对纤毛和脑脊液的一些见解,那些纤毛是在以“螺旋桨运动”来推动脑中的那些液体。最关键的是,这项研究弄清了新神经元是如何形成的。神经元在充满液体的脑室壁附近产生,然后通过脑脊液的流动到达大脑的不同部位。

这些初步的发现虽然很吸引人,但是关于纤毛和脑脊液还有很多未解之谜。接下来,研究人员希望进一步了解这些纤毛是如何对一天中不同的环境和时间做出反应的,以及这些纤毛是如何影响着至关重要的脑脊液的流动。

原文如下:

This morning, before your day began, chances are you gave yourself quick look in the mirror and spent a few moments fiddling around with the hair on top of your head, probably blissfully unaware there’s much more important “hair” laying inside your skull.

Cells that line the brain cavity are armed with tiny hair-like protrusions called cilia. The role of these mysterious little features has long been overlooked by science, but a new study confirms that they are highly important and may even be essential in the development of the brain.

The research, published this week in the journal Current Biology, has shed more light onto how these hair-like fingers help to push along fluid around the brain’s four fluid-filled ventricles, helping to keep a constant circulation of cerebrospinal fluid throughout your noggin. In turn, the flow of fluid helps keep the brain healthy and promote the development of new nerve cells.

“Several theories exist, but for many years this circulation of fluid has been recognized as supplying nutrients to the brain, while also removing waste products,” senior researcher Nathalie Jurisch-Yaksi of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s Kavli Institute said in a statement.

“The cerebrospinal fluid flow also contributes to transmitting molecular signals across the brain,” added Emre Yaksi, a professor at the Kavli Institute.

脑袋里的”头发“比脑袋上的头发更重要
Zebrafish at Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience, ready for studying. Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience, Yaksi Group

To delve deeper into the murky world of brain hairs and fluid, the researchers studied zebrafish. Zebrafish are often used as a model organism in research about genes and vertebrate development because their eggs are fertilized and develop outside the mother’s body. They share a surprising amount of similarities with humans genetically.

Their findings showed a number of insights into the nature of cilia and brain flow. First up, they appear to push fluid along with a “propeller motion,” much like the tail of a sperm. They also discovered that, when the organism is at rest, the flow stays relatively local and ventricular flow remains compartmentalized to each of the brain’s four fluid-filled cavities. Then, when the body starts moving, exchange of fluid between the different ventricles sparks up.

Most crucially of all, the research highlights how new neurons come to “life”. The neurons are created near the wall of the fluid-filled brain ventricles and then pushed around to different portions of the brain through the flow of cerebrospinal fluid.

These initial findings are fascinating but there is still much more to unravel about cilia and cerebrospinal fluid. Next, they hope to further their understanding of how these hairs react to different environments and different times of day, as well as how this affects the flow of that all-important brain fluid

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