Glial Cells Overly Activated in Brains of Fibromyalgia Patients to Promote Inflammation, Study Suggests

Glial Cells Overly Activated in Brains of Fibromyalgia Patients to Promote Inflammation, Study Suggests
Activation of glial cells in the brain, the primary immune cells of our nervous system, may play a key role in fibromyalgia, a study suggests. Modulating these cells could offer a way of treating the disease. The study, "Brain glial activation in fibromyalgia – A multi-site positron emission tomography investigation," was published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. Glial cells are often described as the "support cells" of the brain. They don't send electrical signals like neurons do; instead, these cells are involved in other processes within the central nervous system, such as mediating inflammation. In part because of this role in inflammation and in immune system activation, glial cells are suggested to be involved in fibromyalgia, a disease whose cause remains elusive. No previous study has directly examined these cells in living people with or without fibromyalgia. Researchers used positron emission tomography (PET) scans and a specific dye that would bind to activated microglia and astrocytes (two types of glial cells that can be involved in inflammation), making them visible. By examining the images and doing statistical analyses, researchers could determine roughly how many active (inflammatory) glial cells there were in people with or without the disease. The study enrolled 31 fibromyalgia patients and 21 individuals without fibromyalgia to serve as controls at the Massachusetts General Hospital and the 
Subscribe or to access all post and page content.