Our brain is home to billions of neurons responsible for transmitting information to nerve cells, muscles and glands. It is therefore not surprising that the brain is considered the most complex organ in our body. Not only is it the most complex organ in the human body, but it is also the most important because it controls and coordinates our actions and reactions and basically brings together everything that makes us human.
What Neurons Are Responsible For
Neurons are used to send information from our brain to the rest of our body. With every thought and action, neurons communicate at synapses, where impulses are triggered by the propagation of certain neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are the "chemical messengers" that send information to receptors on receiving cells and translate it into messages. These messages can trigger a variety of responses in the motor system, nervous system, and all other body systems.
The brain is much more than the control center for our way of thinking. The brain allows us to feel, move, see, smell, remember, make judgments, etc. Our brain is working at full speed every second of the day, even when we are sleeping. To function properly, our brain needs oxygen to produce enough energy to “keep moving”. Blood vessels are essential for transporting oxygen and nutrients to all tissues and organs in the body. As a result, the brain houses a unique network of blood vessels that have different properties from other vessels; this is called the blood-brain barrier.
What Exactly Is The Blood-Brain Barrier?
The blood-brain barrier is a thick wall covering the brain microvessels that allows certain ions, molecules and cells to enter the brain. The thick coating of the cells is very tightly wedged against each other, forming tight junctions. These tight junctions allow certain molecules to pass unimpeded through the capillary wall and into brain tissue.
What Is The Importance of The BBB?
The main purpose of the blood-brain barrier is to protect the brain from circulating toxins or pathogens that can cause brain infections while allowing essential nutrients to pass through. Although the blood-brain barrier seems to help our brains by limiting what can go in and out, there are downsides to this mechanism. The vast majority of potential drug treatments cannot cross the barrier, which is a major limitation in the treatment of mental and neurological disorders.
Neurological disorders, including Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, have been associated with defective blood-brain barriers. This means that the barriers prevent the entry of biomolecules essential for healthy brain activity, in particular the transport of certain drugs and metabolic processes.
What Research Has Revealed About Blood-Brain Barriers
There has been an extensive amount of research conducted on the topic of blood-brain barriers and how it affects the outcomes of certain treatments and procedures. Researchers have established mechanisms that are fully capable of allowing drug delivery to the brain to treat mental and neurological disorders.