Nothing makes that more apparent than the recent discovery that our brain has lymphatic vessels that were previously undetected. Thousands of specialists may now have to rethink their understanding of the brain. For those unsure, one of the lymphatic system's functions is defence against foreign particles, microorganisms, and diseases via the immune system. One big filtration system. So, if that filtration system has some weird issue in a vital organ such as, let's just say, the BRAIN - bad things can happen.
It's a pretty big "wow!" moment and turns our understanding of the brain on its [apologies] head. The brain has a drainage system that no one knew about? Seriously? No one knew the tub had an open plug? All along, we thought that the blood brain barrier, something akin to a conniving barbapapa, from what I can tell, was the only entrance to the brain's home.
Another function of the lymphatic system is that of absorbing fat soluble vitamins, like vitamin D and transporting those substances to venous circulation. Still with me? Could drainage be the problem after all? Does this somehow explain why people with MS respond so well to vitamin D? Does this explain why or how CCSVI works for some? (the lymphatic system would eventually drain into the jugular)
What is happening?! How can all of this be? It's exciting and confusing at once!
Sure, anatomy textbooks have needed updates before (Belgium found a new knee ligament just a few years ago), but this feels like a potentially huge leap forward for research. If there are lymphatic vessels in the brain, the blood brain barrier has a backdoor and we may be able to start understanding why - yes, why - some MS drugs actually work. Or, maybe, maaaaybe even start getting a better handle on causation. Dare I even conjure a whammy on that one?
Imagine if neurologists, immunologists, radiologists, and pharmaceutical companies all got on the same page! Don't roll your eyes at me; it could happen, right?
This finding may have a more immediate impact on people with Alzheimer's than it will for MS, but it is a very compelling piece of science either way. People with Alzheimer's are shown to have huge chunks of protein in the brain for no known reason. Now the number one suspect is a relatively straightforward drainage problem. So far, these lymph vessels have been found in mouse model studies and confirmed in human autopsy.
So, now we wait to see what comes of this.
Because something will.