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Brain Drains

Understanding the structure and mechanics of brain blood supply – insight for treating brain injury

24 February 2021

Brain Drains

Your brain makes up just 2% of your body but needs 20% of the oxygen you breathe in — it gets that via its blood supply. Almost all of the brain’s blood drains out through channels called dural venous sinuses into jugular veins that run through your neck. If these are damaged, such as through traumatic brain injury, it’s potentially life-threatening. But a thorough understanding of the mechanical and structural properties of these sinuses is lacking. Researchers now investigate this using pigs. Through histology [tissue anatomy], they uncovered that the matrix which the sinus cells sit in is overwhelmingly made of collagen, which explains why the sinuses are so stiff. Scanning electron microscopy of the sinuses revealed collagen was aligned differently through the various layers and regions of the sinuses (pictured). These insights begin to give us a better understanding of dural venous sinuses, which may be important in understanding brain injury.

Written by Lux Fatimathas

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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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