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Brain Drain
09 February 2012

Brain Drain

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes progressive damage to the nerves of the brain and central nervous system. It may also decrease the number of veins serving sufferers’ brains. Comparing brain images from a healthy person (top row) with those from two patients suffering from different stages of MS (lower rows), the differences in brain vein number and density are clear. The number of veins serving the brain (two columns marked in blue) is reduced in the two MS patients. And the presence of more brown-yellow spots in the patient brains in the far-left column represents areas where there are fewer veins. Analysing images from many individuals showed that a reduction in brain veins was more likely with MS. Compromised blood flow in the brain can lead to reduced metabolism in MS patients, putting them at risk of stroke.

Written by Andrew Purcell

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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