How the immune system helps build your brain

How the immune system helps build your brain

Pregnant women who are hospitalized for infections, including the flu, have a slightly higher risk for giving birth to a child with a neurodevelopmental disorder like autism. What's going on? Is the immune system influencing the developing brain? 

Spoilers: yes. And it all starts when immune cells (microglia) are lured into the brain by the siren call of neural progenitor cells. 

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This week on Brains and Bourbon, we talk immunology with Mary Cavanagh, who explains how specialized cells recognize self v. non-self to keep the body safe, and how loss of that recognition can lead to a whole host of problems. 

Dr. Cavanagh is a postdoc in Jorg Goronzy’s lab here at Stanford, as well as a frequent contributor to the Neuroblog. 

Brains & Bourbon airs every Wednesday at 1pm on 90.1FM KZSU, which can be streamed here: http://kzsulive.stanford.edu/