Johns Hopkins researchers say they have identified a new way that cells in the brain alert the rest of the body to recruit immune cells when the brain is injured. The work was completed in mouse models that mimic infection, stroke or trauma in humans.

Investigators already knew there was a communication highway between the brain and the immune system but have been unclear about how exactly how the brain sends signals to the immune system. While immune system cells’ purpose is to defend and protect the body, ironically the brain’s “call to arms” may cause more harm than good when it instructs immune cells to enter into the brain. The persistence of these cells can cause chronic inflammation and damage the brain.

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