Scientists Discover Previously Unknown Cleansing System in Brain – News Room – University of Rochester Medical Center


A previously unrecognized system that drains waste from the brain at a rapid clip has been discovered by neuroscientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center. The findings were published online August 15 in Science Translational Medicine.

The highly organized system acts like a series of pipes that piggyback on the brain’s blood vessels, sort of a shadow plumbing system that seems to serve much the same function in the brain as the lymph system does in the rest of the body – to drain away waste products.

“Waste clearance is of central importance to every organ, and there have been long-standing questions about how the brain gets rid of its waste,” said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., senior author of the paper and co-director of the University’s Center for Translational Neuromedicine. “This work shows that the brain is cleansing itself in a more organized way and on a much larger scale than has been realized previously.

“We’re hopeful that these findings have implications for many conditions that involve the brain, such as traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and Parkinson’s disease,” she added.

Nedergaard’s team has dubbed the new system “the glymphatic system,” since it acts much like the lymphatic system but is managed by brain cells known as glial cells. The team made the findings in mice, whose brains are remarkably similar to the human brain.

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  1. “The team made the findings in mice, whose brains are remarkably similar to the human brain.”

    Almost as if they evolved and were related! 

    New technology discovers new amazing things.

  2. It’ll be interesting to see the potential medicinal advantages to this discovery – Alzheimer’s disease for one, as they mentioned later in the article.

  3. Nedergaard’s team has dubbed the new system “the glymphatic system,”

    “Brain Drain” already taken

  4. Of course mouse brains are “remarkably” similar to ours.  Aren’t we all living in a simulation designed by white mice?  Why won’t people recognise that Douglas Adams – himself an alien from another system – was right after all?

  5. Within a year, I predict that quacks will have a remedy for sale that helps “boost” the glymphatic system. Something like Brain-O.


  6. Surely the mouse brain is only “remarkably” similar to the brains of American right wing nutjobs and not all humans?

  7.  I hypothesize that the glymphatic systems in their heads removed the wrong material.

  8. You also remember that we were, in his words, a ‘cock-up’ and not intended to be in this simulation in the first place? 😉

  9. Ah, yes.  Like many others I do miss him not being on the scene today.  Perhaps he really left with the dolphins?  RD has mentioned many times what a loss Douglas is to our cause.

  10. Sponges are about 600 million years old and have about 18,000 genes. They are organised in a way that enables the grouping of individual sponge cells to have the ability to ingest food and expel waste. If you destruct a sponge into individual cells (they are each animals in their own right – pretty much identical) they will regroup back into a sponge formation.

    This animal/plant is perhaps a model which many other multicellular organisms used as life evolved. The intestine, liver, skin, brain, etc are all colonies of cells that have been organised by our genes to enable their propagation. The intestine for example is just a worm that we evolved around, along of course with millions of other species.

    So, a mouses brain, and our brain, acts like a sponge in some aspects, managing the individual brain cell ingestion and waste disposal. No surprise there. How many genes out of our 23,000 do you think are shared with the 18,000 genes sponges have?

    We have genes in our DNA that are billions of years old (yes, before animals) and share genes with probably most species (living or extinct).

    There may/will be some genes that are unique to our species but we can all trace ourselves back to a time, even before sponges. I would tell you exactly where, but I found The Ancestors Tale hard going.

  11. I would like to know about what
    kind of waste they are talking about? What is it that is considered waste in
    the brain, that is, how it differs from other, useful, things in the brain? I
    understand that the life processes of humans, and all other living creatures on
    the planet, undergoes of second law of thermodynamics. And because our brains
    uses energy to function, I suppose that it is the energy that can not be used
    any more. Also I’d like to know what is happening with that waste … is it
    stored on a specific location in the brain or where?

  12. There are oodles of single cell animals. They have to “eat” and “defecate” like all other animals and they have ways of doing this. Multi cell animals are comprised of individual cells (all the same in the case of sponges – a very old plant/animals) and are organised such that the idividual cells can still “eat” and “defecate”.

    For instance humans have many colonies of cells that have to work together (they evolved that way – if they got it wrong they’re history) and some of the colonies are focussed on breathing (lungs) eating/defecating (gastrointestinal tract), distributing nutrients (blood), seperating out and distributing food, hormones, enzymes, waste products, etc (liver, kidneys, pancreas, etc).

    Our brain is just another colony and every brain cell has to be fed. The brain demands, nutrient intake, much of our oxygen intake, heat and needs to expel dead braincell components and extract materials for new brain cell construction.

    The most interesting to me is that, whilst brain cells die and are replaced all the time (all cells in our body are replaced at least once every ten years (months for many blood cells, days for many skin cells and yes, even all bone cells are replaced within that 10 year span) so you really are a totally different person than you were 10 years ago) you appear to have everlasting memories.

    Your billion brain cells can have connections between them (synapses) that can number up to a trillion in very intelligent people. These linkages increase over time as you grow and learn and use your brain and they obviously are maintained in some way as the individual brain cells are replaced.

    Find out the detailed mechanism for this and we have identified ourselves. We are really just a mechanical/elecrical/chemical/biological creature and only differ from other animal species because of our large braincell colony and the contained mechanism for controlling our central nervous system and having more “grey matter” that has – in spite of religion holding us back- started to understand how it evolved and how it works.

    Unfortunately most of our brightest and best now ignore science and head for Wall Street, Religion, Advertising, Hollywood, Start Ups that pay in share options, etc where the big bucks are.

    We’re starting to regress. Our genes, that evolved us as yet another way to enable them to perpetrate themselves, aren’t bothered if we become extinct ( they’re just simple chemicals so obviously can’t actually think) since they have many other plants and animals that contain them. The few unique to us don’t realise that they will be responsible for their own extinction because of a meme (religion) that their presence enabled and which led to death by stupidity – the pathway to a non existent afterlife.


  13. I can’t help but wonder how religion could ever possibly provide such invaluable knowledge…

    Is Science fucking awesome, or what?

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