How Do Bacteria Help Cancer

B0006520 Breast cancer cells

Cancers are a community of cells that engage in continual conversations to help their cells thrive, to expand to new locations, and to fight off attacks from immune cells, microbes, and other cells. Bacteria are another community of cells that constantly talk among themselves for group activity such as finding food,…

What Do Single Neurons Know

B0006918 Retinal ganglion cell

As technology advances, we are able to observe the behavior, decision-making, and communication of individual cells. This complicates understanding how activity from individual cells is integrated into the function of organs and organisms at very different scales. A recent set of posts described the new findings on…

T Cells Adapt to Fight Cancer

FEATURE Cancer and B Cells iStock_000019908954XSmall

Helping T cells and microbes kill cancers as new advanced treatment is hot news. These new treatments are based on the natural outcomes of communication among cells, including immune, lining, brain, and cancer cells along with microbes. It is definitely striking that all of these cells speak the same language and can talk…

Synchronizing with Brain Clocks

B0005622 Enhanced MRI scan of the head

Up until recently, research into circadian rhythms has focused on central brain clocks that synchronize other cells. The three previous posts have described new research that each living cell has its own individual clocks based on genetic feedback loops combined with epigenetic loops. The three posts described the…

Individual Cell Clocks and Immunity

B0004150 Mast cell showing histamine granules

Each cell has oscillating gene networks that somehow help organize, synchronize, and anticipate activity of the tissues and the entire organism. Energy from the sun is transformed into energy and material for the cell to use in sync to these rhythms. The rhythms also are related to how the cell develops in particular…

Cellular Clocks and Metabolism

B0004343 Organelles in a pancreas cell

Until recently all circadian clock rhythms were assumed to be triggered from a central brain clock, synchronizing sleep, wakefulness, hormones, and metabolism. Now, many more functions have been found related to clocks and the variations throughout the body cannot all be triggered by one central clock. In fact, each tissue…

Each Cell Has s Clock

PD circadian picture

For many years there was a consensus that most organisms have a circadian clock. In humans it was considered to be directed centrally by the master clock in the brain region suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). This clock appears to be involved in directing essential physiological processes throughout the body including…

Complex Cellular Conversations about Food Allergies

B0009442 Collage of mixed fruits and vegetables, MRI

It is quite remarkable that the immune system can deal with an almost infinite number of different molecules and not have more disasters. In creating antibodies and receptors, immune cells are able to respond to newly synthesized molecules that have never been seen in nature before. Equally remarkable is the response to…

Update on Microbes Affecting the Brain

B0004798 Electron micrograph of Escherichia coli, close-up

Recent posts had already shown that gut microbe signaling with the human brain can have positive and negative effects on anxiety, stress, depression, obesity and degenerative illness. This occurs by neurotransmitters secreted into the blood, gut neuron stimulation, microbe travel into the brain, and immune cells…

Intelligent Cellular Self Eating and Recycling

B0004343 Organelles in a pancreas cell

The term autophagy means “self” (auto) “eating” (phagy also refers to phagocytes which are immune cells that eat debris and microbes). Just this week the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was given to the scientist who first discovered this process in yeast a generation ago—Yoshinori Ohsumi. Later, it was…

Intelligent Lysosomes Are More than A Waste Disposal

B0004611 Phagocytic vesicle and lysosomes inside a macrophage

Previous posts have described the very complex pathways that create membranes to surround the entire cell and to build vital cell compartments and well known organelles. A post noted how different types of fatty membranes are built for each organelle with many different complex shapes. These include mitochondria,…

Update on Interface of Immunity and Brain


Both the brain and the immune system perceive infections, trauma, stress, anxiety and social isolation. Both respond to efforts to defend and heal these traumas. Many previous posts have described increasing understanding of how neither can operate without the other. They have been called the “wired and wireless…

Producing Many Kinds of T Helper Cells


T cells are the masters of the immune system. Through active communication with the brain they maintain balance between the immune and nervous systems. T cells respond to situations by regulating all other immune cells through signaling, either with secreted molecules or by direct contact. T cells have many very specific…

Epigenetic Signals Regulate New Brain Cells

B0007285 Human brain cells

Relatively small numbers of new neurons are produced in several critical parts of the adult human brain. The most well understand region is the dentate nucleus of the hippocampus where new neurons are incorporated into memory circuits for new information that clarifies old memories. Please see the post on how new neurons…

Special Relationship of Viruses and Endoplasmic Reticulum

B0008518 Rough endoplasmic reticulum

It is quite remarkable how much viruses can accomplish with a very small number of genes and a handful of proteins. Previous posts have described the very elaborate lifestyle of HIV with only 9 genes, and Ebola with only 7 genes. Somehow, viruses are able to manipulate vast cellular machinery including organelles much…

The Powerful Immune Synapse

B0010532 Killer T-cell immune synapse, 3D-SIM

Cells communicate with many varied signals—both chemical and electrical. Signals can be secreted in the space between cells, into the blood stream and in cerebrospinal fluid. Chemical signals can be sent in small vesicles (endosomes) or in nanotubes that exist between most cells. Another way that cells talk is by forming…

Guardians of the Blood Brain Barrier

B0003405 Capillary with red blood cells

Two thousand years ago Aristotle wrote that cells lining blood vessels determine organs. Recently, he was found correct when capillary cells demonstrated elaborate communication with stem cells and many other cells. Unique capillary cells in each organ have dramatic effects on the life of the cells in that region. With…

Are Fungus the Dominant Life Form

B0009413 Macrophages infected with Candida yeast spores, SEM

Bacteria and viruses exhibit communication and almost endless creativity and variation. We have no real idea just how many species there are. Bacteria and viruses have dramatic effects on the ecology of every part of the earth. Because of this, they have been considered by some to be the dominant life form. An increasing…

Inflammasomes Are Large Complex Signaling Platforms

FEATURE Protein molecule for Complex Neuron Machinery

Many large proteins combine to form a signaling platform that orchestrates many varied types of inflammation. Irregularities in any of the proteins of this complex structure can produce devastating diseases, including cancer and autoimmune, metabolic and brain diseases. Inflammation can be caused by toxins, trauma and many…

Signals for Complex Travel of White Blood Cells

B0004153 White blood cell - polymorphonuclear leucocyte

White blood cells, which are called leukocytes, are able to find sites of infection and trauma through elaborate signaling. Of the many different kinds of immune and blood cells, the particular type is produced and sent long distances to the site of the trouble. First, they travel in blood vessels and then into the tissue,…

Viruses evade DNA RNA Sensors

N0013888 HIV virus budding from T lymphocyte

Some think viruses are not alive. It is, therefore, very surprising that they can evade elaborate cellular mechanisms used to find and destroy them. Search and destroy mechanisms of the cell and counter attacks from viruses are very complex. Cells use many sensors to find DNA and RNA that is not where it is supposed to be….

Neurons and Immune Cells Talking at Barrier Regions

B0003777 Villus from the human duodenum

It is the border regions of the intestine, skin and lungs where the lining cells meet the outside world. They must respond to a vast amount of microbes and intense environmental factors. Conversations between lining cells, microbes and immune cells determine responses both healthy and unhealthy. Now it is found that…

Short Chain Fatty Acids From Fiber As Critical Signals

W0030903 Cereals and legumes

Dietary fiber has been recommended for several positive health effects. However, the reasons for these effects are complex and just being discovered. As with all of life, it involves signaling among cells throughout the body including gut cells where it is ingested, microbes in the gut that metabolize it, and immune cells…

Microbe Conversations with Skin Cells Produce Immunity

Human Skin Cutaway Diagram, With Several Details.

Skin is much more dynamic than most realize. The major epithelial cells, called keratinocytes, engage in very elaborate signaling to many different cells. They also produce many types of cells, some gradually becoming the firm barrier cells that make skin resistant to infections and trauma. Like lining cells of the…

Vast Complexity of Immune Micro RNA Signals

PD     MiR-155_secondary_structure

Immune cells travel independently and depend on signals for their activity. Called the “wireless” brain, immune cells communicate with many other cells—neurons, astrocytes, microglia, blood vessel cells, intestinal and skin lining cells, and tissue cells. Signals help develop special capabilities, such as T cells…

Vital Immune Communication with Peptides

colorful peptide

Communication among cells is the basis of all immune and nervous system activity. Research continues to find large vocabularies of signals in different languages—neurotransmitters, cytokines, small RNAs, protein transcription factors, small lipid molecules and glycan sugars. The numbers of signals is growing…

Special T cells Inhibit Immune Reactions to Food

B0009441 Collage of mixed fruits and vegetables, MRI
Credit: Alexandr Khrapichev, University of Oxford. Wellcome Images
Collage of cross sections through various fruits and vegetables (avocado, squash, cabbage, mandarin orange, pomegranate, garlic cloves, tomato, kiwi, star fruit, persimmon, artichoke). Ultra-thin virtual slices through the fruit or vegetable were acquired by spin-echo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) which reveals details inside the object without damaging it. The images are digitally coloured where contrast corresponds to MRI signal intensity and hue was changed to match the natural colour of the fruit or vegetable.
Magnetic resonance imaging
2012 Published:  - 

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0, see

Immune cells in the gut are produced in response to environmental signals and communication between many different types of cells. The gut is a very special environment that includes cooperative and competitive efforts between many cells including trillions of friendly and unfriendly microbes, intestinal epithelial cells,…

Intelligent Capillary Cells Regulate Tissue Stem Cells

B0009898 Blood vessels in the skin, mouse

It is well known that neurons send a variety of intelligent critical signals to other neurons, glia, and immune cells using neurotransmitters, vesicles of several types, cytokines and nanotubes between cells. Elaborate back and forth communication between immune cells uses a wide variety of cytokines, neurotransmitters and…

Jumping Genes Regulation of the Brain

Molecular Colors

The regulation of DNA is fantastically complex with many different layers: changing 3D shapes of the chromatin and loops of DNA; regional differences in nuclear DNA; large numbers of different epigenetic tags on DNA nucleotides and protective protein histone molecules; complex DNA repair mechanisms and alternative…

Biofilm Geo Politics

B0008255 Confocal micrograph of Bacillus subtilis

Biofilms are major causes of severe infections because microbes are able to protect themselves in a tough 3-D matrix that is difficult for the cell to attack. Until recently, it was thought that one dangerous microbe builds a biofilm. As has been found with most microbe activities, their strength derives from back and…

Microbe Geo Politics in the Gut

B0003777 Villus from the human duodenum

With trillions of microbes comprising thousands of species or more, it has been impossible to fully study their composition or exact locations in the gut. Even more complex is their back and forth chatter between multiple Kingdoms such as bacteria, viruses, archaea, fungi, and eukaryote human cells in the lining and immune…

The Politics of Gut Microbe Kingdoms

PD FEATURE WIK 800px-SalmonellaNIAID

It was once thought that to prove the cause of an infection, a microbe is found. The microbe is isolated from the unhealthy person. Later, this infection is reproduced in an otherwise healthy animal by injecting that particular microbe. This approach is described in Koch’s Postulates and was the dogma of microbiology…

Vast Complexity of Immune Pattern Recognition Receptors

PD sheets of dendritic cell capture HIV

Living among trillions of microbes, it is necessary to determine which are going to cause disease. This is done by recognizing patterns with special receptors on immune cells—pattern recognition receptors or PPRs. Once triggered, receptors activate powerful mechanisms to cause inflammation that is life saving but, also,…

Intelligent Microbe Secretory Weapons

B0004797 Electron micrograph of Escherichia coli, close-up

Microbes demonstrate incredible sophistication in making effector molecules that have multi-layered effects. A previous post described how some of these newly created proteins are the exact shapes that alter epigenetic tags in host cells. They produce very particular genetic changes influencing cascades in the nucleus,…

Intelligent Microbes Attack Organelles

B0008190 Organelles in spiral ganglion neuron

Human cells are massively larger and more complex than bacteria and yet microbes keep up relentless intelligent warfare. Previous posts documented surprisingly sophisticated, multi level attacks by microbes using protein molecules and micro RNA against plants and animals. Recently, new microbe techniques have been…

How Does Diet Influence Immunity

B0009442 Collage of mixed fruits and vegetables, MRI

The short answer is by very complex intelligent communication with a vast array of signals from a single layer of cells. This single intestinal epithelial cell layer makes elaborate decisions about digestion, types of diet, analysis of the effects of trillions of microbes and the types of immune cells and specialized lymph…

Are Microtubules the Brain of the Neuron

PD firbroblast microtubule green actin red

Microtubules may be the brains of the cell, particularly neurons—operating like a computerized Lego set. They are large complex scaffolding molecules that work closely with the two other rapidly changing structural molecules, actin and intermediate filaments, to provide structure for the entire cell including the…

Clever Cells and Microbes Fight Over Vacuoles

B0007276 Eukaryotic cell
Credit: Anna Tanczos. Wellcome Images
A eukaryotic cell is defined as a nucleus containing cell. Most living organisms including animals, plants, fungi and protists are eukaryotes. The contents of the cell depicted in this model are as folows: The central region of the cell shows the nuclear envelope contining the nuclear pores, nucleolus and DNA (shown as a double helix). The golgi apparatus is purple and the smooth and rough endoplasmic reticulum are in shiney blue, both these structures are convoluted in shape to give them a larger surface area. The energy producing apparatus of the cell is the mitochondria - shown in red. The ribosomes are dipicted as green spheres, the centrioles - grey cylinders, the vesicles light blue spheres and lysosymes - large purple spheres.
Digital artwork/Computer graphic
Published:  - 

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0, see

Vacuoles are unique intracellular vesicles with many different functions. Some store critical molecules. Some store water or fat. Others are factories of destruction for waste, debris and mis folded proteins. Previous posts have described how individual organelles, like mitochondria have independent intelligent activity….

Reciprocal Relationship of Depression and Inflammation

B0003385 Depression- bad apple theory - illustration Credit: Adrian Cousins. Wellcome Images Computer-generated illustration showing the bad apple view of depression. Published: - Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0, see

It is unfortunate that the word “depression” is used in many different ways and is at the same time chosen to represent a brain illness. There are, undoubtedly, many subtypes of the illness depression and the current clinical definition includes a list of mental and physical symptoms, some of which are severe—sleep…

The Very Intelligent Choroid Plexus Epithelial Cell

N0026056 Circulation of cerebro-spinal fluid
Credit: Wellcome Images. Wellcome Images
Circulartion of cerebro-spinal fluid
Colour artwork of sagittal section of the brain. The fluid is illustrated in blue, formed within the ventricles and eventually surrounding completely the brain and spinal cord. It acts as a cushion and shock absorber.
Digital artwork/Computer graphic
Published:  - 

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0, see

Small lining cells along the border of the brain’s ventricles are the gateway and supervisor of the relationship between the brain and the rest of the body, including the immune system. The choroid plexus cells produce cerebral spinal fluid, which bathes the brain and provides a cushion. But, it, also, performs a vast…

Many New Microbe Molecules Discovered in Humans

B0004797 Electron micrograph of Escherichia coli, close-up

Inside of each of us, there are ten times as many bacteria and 100 times as many viruses as our own cells. This means we have 300 times more DNA from microbes inside of us than our own DNA (the total DNA has been called the hologenome- see post). Microbe DNA is not quiet, but is producing large amounts of molecules that…

Intelligent Cancer Cells Communicate with Exosomes

B0008197 Vesicle transport at the golgi apparatus
Credit: University of Dundee. Wellcome Images
Computer graphic showing vesicle transport at the golgi apparatus in an eukaryotic cell. Cells synthesis various molecules for signalling and other cellular processes, most of these molecules are bound in vesicles, which are membrane bound sacks that allow various molecules to be transported through the cell. Different vesicles have different functions depending on the molecules they contain, they can store, transport or digest and dispose of different molecules. The golgi apparatus or golgi body is an organelle that is responsible for sorting and packaging protiens and lipids by packaging them in vesicles and ensuring they are delivered the the correct place in the cell.
Digital artwork/Computer graphic
August 2008 Published:  - 

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0, see

It is surprising that cells have so many elaborate ways to communicate with each other. Cytokines and neurotransmitters are well known methods. Recently, very unusual new signaling techniques have been discovered, such as small nano tubes (cytonemes) in which cells send many types of signals including important genetic…

Spread of the Intelligent Dengue Virus

B0009952 Dengue virus (DENV) particle, illustration

A small RNA strand able to make ten proteins has become the scourge of much of the world in the form of Dengue fever. This remarkable tiny virus is able to thwart the complex human immune reactions that fight viruses. Using some unique features, it is rapidly spreading through the world and infects millions of people per…

Maintaining Neuronal Identity

B0006918 Retinal ganglion cell
Credit: Annie Cavanagh. Wellcome Images
An isolated retinal ganglion cell. This is a type of neuron typically located near the inner surface of the retina of the eye that receives visual information from photoreceptors via two intermediate neuron types. Retinal ganglion cells collectively transmit visual information from the retina to several regions in the thalamus, hypothalamus, and midbrain. They vary significantly in terms of their size, connections, and responses to visual stimulation but they all share the defining property of having a long axon that extends into the brain. These axons form the optic nerve, optic chiasm, and optic tract.
Scanning electron micrograph
2008 Published:  - 

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0, see

When neurons differentiate from stem cells, they become a very particular type of cell that can last a hundred years. The post How Many Different Types of Neurons are There noted that there are at least a thousand very different species of neurons with varied structures and functions. How does the cell know how to…

How Do Cells Know What Size They Should Be

B0009505 Cell fates in zebrafish retina, acrylic painting
Credit: Prof. Bill Harris. Wellcome Images
Artist's impression of the cellular structure of part of a developing zebrafish retina. The retina is almost fully developed so all the cells have been born and have almost finished moving into one of three layers depicted here. The top layer is the ganglion cell layer which contains retinal ganglion cells. The middle layer (inner nuclear layer) contains horizontal cells (green), bipolar cells (yellow), Mueller cells (white) and amacrine cells (red). The cells in the bottom layer are cells of the outer nuclear layer (rods and cones). This acrylic painting was inspired by multi-coloured fluorescent proteins which are used to label different types of cells and different compartments inside a cell (e.g. nucleus, membrane, cytoplasm). This gives an instantaneous view of the spectrum of cell fates within a neural tissue.
2013 Published:  - 

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0, see

When considering the intelligence of individual cells, certain things stand out. Cells know exactly where they are and how to travel to far away places through many kinds of terrain with many different techniques. Cells know how to signal back and forth wirelessly to many different types of cells using many different…

Neuronal Signals in Inflammation and Cancer

B0006255 Human colon cancer cells
Credit: Annie Cavanagh. Wellcome Images
Colour-enhanced image of human colon cancer cells in culture.
Scanning electron micrograph
2006 Published:  - 

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons by-nc-nd 4.0, see

Neuronal signaling does more than transmit mental information. It also, regulates the microenvironments of cells and their behavior in bodily organs. These signals attempt to maintain stability. Communication between neurons and many other cells stimulates and regulates inflammation and the functions of stem cells….

Bacteria Work Together to Build a Biofilm Civilization

Public domain   biofilm

Bacteria build large city-like structures for protection. Constructing a biofilm is a masterpiece of cooperation. Previous posts show that bacteria are able to make complex decisions after analysis and synthesis of multiple simultaneous inputs without a brain. They are, also, able to communicate through an elaborate…

Are Microbes Friend or Foe of Cancer

B0006421 Breast cancer cells

Cellular communication is ubiquitous in life and previous posts have described many types of cellular languages. Critical signaling occurs in highly complex interactions of bacteria and human cells to help or fight cancer cells in their quest to form their own cellular community. Like other major cellular societies, cancer…

Vast Complexity of Chromatin 3D Shapes

B0003529 Chondrocyte showing organelles - coloured

Humans have only 21,000 genes—the same as a worm—and they are identical in all of the different types of cells. It is not the inherited code of the genes that determines the different cellular functions. Rather, it is way that genes are utilized differently in each type of cell that determines which proteins will…

Intelligent Cells Know Their Place

B0009505 Cell fates in zebrafish retina, acrylic painting

Cells need to know where they are for many reasons. But, it is very challenging for an individual to know its exact location relative to a large outside world, without GPS. Despite great difficulties, remarkably, individual cells can make complex calculations and decisions based on their exact relations to other cells and…

Virus Tricks Manipulate the Cytoskeleton

B0001397 Stress fibres, focal adhesions & lamellae

Viruses, with only a few genes, are able to commandeer the complex mechanisms of human cells. Previous posts have described remarkable behavior of herpes, HIV and Ebola. These tiny pieces of genetic material are able to make proteins that evade the attacks from immune cells and trick membranes to allow entry. Viruses can…

Electric DNA and Mind

Molecular Colors

The many electrical factors related to brain function bolsters the theory that mind might consist of electromagnetic fields, gradients and currents (one of several theories). Posts have described how in the developing fetus electrical synapses lay out the detailed brain structure with chemical synapses built on this…

Fantastic Complexity in Brain Potassium Channels

B0007683 Ion channels

Most students of biology are familiar with the neuron’s action spike traveling along the axon because of electric flux of the sodium and potassium channels in the membrane. It is not widely known, however, that there are almost a hundred different kinds potassium channels in the brain with very different properties. The…

Cannabinoids in Inflammation and the Aging Brain

FEATURE    shutterstock_179204051  leafy brain meditation

This is the second post on brain cannabinoids. The previous post described the vast functions of endogenous cannabinoids in the developing brain. That post, also, described how cannabinoids are critical for stimulating neuronal stem cells in the adult brain’s hippocampus related to learning and memory. To fully understand…

Evolution of Intelligent Viruses and Jumping Genes

Molecular Colors

50% of the human genome consists of jumping genes or mobile genetic elements. The 8% of human DNA from retroviruses has been vital to human evolution, such as determining the human placenta, epigenetic changes in the brain and digestive enzymes. An epigenetic immune system in the nucleus battles the jumping genes for…

The Very Intelligent Protein mTOR

FEATURE   Protein molecule for Complex Neuron Machinery

How can one protein molecule function as if it is a brain? It is able to monitor a large amount of different external and internal information and use this data to make critical decisions and take many simultaneous actions. The decisions involve multiple pathways controlling cellular growth and the amount of protein…

Endocannabinoids Critical for Brain Function

Back In Nature

Endocannabinoids are derived from fatty acids in a very complex process. They serve as critical signals for a wide variety of brain functions. “Endo” refers to cannabinoids made in the brain, as opposed to “phytocannabinoids” made in plants and ingested. For simplicity, this post will use the general term…

Plant Intelligence Primer and Update 2015

Dna Nature

Since Aristotle many scientists have considered plants robotic, rather than vital intelligent beings. Darwin did not subscribe to this view and published a book about intelligent plant movement where he called the root the plant’s brain. Recently, an excellent book summarizing the current data on plant intelligence,…

Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Signaling in the Brain

N0019835 Cell membrane with different receptor types

Most people are familiar with proteins regulating genes and peptides and amino acids as signals and factors in the brain. Now, fat molecules are found to be vital signals for a wide range of brain functions, including protecting neurons from cell death, stimulating synapses and creating new neurons. In particular,…

Complexity of the Glia Neuromuscular Junction

B0004108 Poly-innervated neuromuscular junctions

Most of us take bodily movement for granted. But, in fact, it is a very complex collaboration of many different systems—the long nerves of the pyramidal system, the fine-tuning of the extrapyramidal system and constant sensory feedback. The partnership of nerve and muscle occurs at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ)….

Can Individual Cells Choose Not to Age

WC   Lung_cancer_cell_larger

In the search for eternal youth, it is not clear what causes cellular aging. It is, also, not known how much individual cells contribute to the aging of organs, tissues and animals. Recent research with individual cells shows that the process of cellular aging is not simple. There now appears to be many different possible…

The Enormous Complexity of Transport Along the Axon

B0006918 Retinal ganglion cell

Some scientists consider scaffolding fibers and tubules in the neuron to be the seat of consciousness. They respond instantly to any mental event with massive movement and construction—building and rebuilding the structures for dendrite spines and axon boutons at synapses in the ever-changing neuron. Microtubules are…

The Very Intelligent Ebola Virus Takes Front and Center

Ebola virus

Several intelligent viruses have been featured in previous posts. Herpes has a very complex life style with more than 70 genes—traveling up and down the neuron and in and out of the skin cell. HIV has an extraordinary set of complex behaviors with only 9 genes—travelling with critical proteins in its capsid, evading…

Does Activity Determine Synaptic Creation and Pruning

B0006223 Neurons in culture

It has been assumed that use of neurons through activity (action potential spikes) stimulates more synapses and stronger circuits in the brain and that lack of use leads to pruning or elimination of the synapse. But, is this true? While it appears that activity can lead to new and increased circuits, the mechanisms for…

Versatile Lipoproteins in Healthy Brains and Alzheimers

N0019835 Cell membrane with different receptor types

A previous post discussed the great complexity of cell membranes and the varied lipids that are manufactured, tagged and transported for many different membranes—vesicles, signaling, and cellular compartment structures. Cholesterol is one of the key lipids with many functions. Another special molecule—a lipoprotein,…

Amazing Complexity of Cellular Membranes

N0019830 Endocytosis

When seeking the origin of cellular life, most scientists first try to create a spontaneous fatty membrane that could, theoretically, surround a cell. In fact, real cellular membranes are anything but spontaneous and simple. Membranes are made of extremely complex lipids, of which there are a vast amount of different…

The Remarkable Language of Cells

B0003526 Cells in the cerebellum

All living creatures communicate, providing group activity and defense. But, it has been surprising to find individual cells, also, have very elaborate communication. Amoebae communication is so complex that individual creatures are able to combine into what appears to be a multi cellular organism and then go back to…

Electrical Fields Guiding 3D Shape of Cells and Organs

B0004955 Foot showing the surrounding electromagnetic field

How does the cell know what size and shape it should be? Many cells alter their shape to provide different functions, like microglia. Even more complex is the question as to how organs, limbs, and creatures know what size and shape they should be when they are growing. How do the cells know how and where to form an organ?…

Platelet Intelligence

B0006429 Blood clot with crenated red cells

Platelets have been mostly thought of as a fragment of a cell that stops bleeding and not much else. They can, also, produce damage because clotting can block arteries causing strokes and heart attacks. So, it is a surprise that recent research finds platelets have many other roles including being critical players in…

The Very Intelligent Skin Cell

Human Skin Cutaway Diagram, With Several Details.

The skin is the major interface between the body and the outside world with its trillions of microbes and environmental toxins. Skin has many layers and various different types of cells—keratinocytes, fibroblasts that make the extra cellular matrix, immune cells of various types, and sensory cells that connect to nerve…

Astrocyte Calcium Signaling Leads to More Brain Complexity

Nybertuc   WIK  C   1024px-GFAP_16DIV_2

From Nybertuc Astrocytes are the neuron’s critical partners—helping to establish synapses, as well as, maintaining and pruning them. Astrocytes—five to ten times as numerous as neurons and making up half of the brain—create a huge scaffold. The astrocyte network signals with calcium fluctuations, while the…

Complex Migration of Leukocytes

B0004153 White blood cell - polymorphonuclear leucocyte

Leukocytes, immune cells also known as white blood cells, use very complex modes of travel to navigate the vastly different environments of the various human organs. A variety of immune cells, including T cells and neutrophils, travel throughout the body, in and out of these tissues. There are thousands of different…

The Very Intelligent Intestine Epithelial Cell

cells colors

Maintaining positive and negative interactions with trillions of microbes; modulating the immune system to accommodate thousands of different microbe communities; determining multiple attributes of digestion of food and production of vitamins; influencing the human immune system development and normal function; signaling…

The Many Ways Neurons Repair Their Own DNA

FEATURE   DNA editing

Neurons encounter many different types of DNA errors in three phases of brain development: the rapidly dividing cells building the fetal brain, the differentiation into specific types of neurons and the mature neuron that lasts the life of the organism. The neuron has repair pathways for each of the faults that arise….

Are Microglia the Most Intelligent Brain Cells

FEATURE Microglia  iStock_000006935562Small

As both unique immune cells and unique brain cells that constantly change shape and have numerous different functions, are microglia the most intelligent brain cells? Microglia travel independently, not attached to any structure, constantly circling a territory with extended arms repeatedly tapping all axons, dendrites and…

Is the Primary Cilium a Cell’s Antenna or Its Brain


Almost every human cell has a little known structure called the primary cilium. It is similar to the well known motile cilia, but without special structures for movement. This solitary, unmoving structure, most often sticking out of cells, was considered a vestigial organ. While first noted in 1987, only recently has the…

Intelligent T Cells

1024px -Healthy_Human_T_Cell

The previous post described T cells affecting brain cognitive processes as well as immunity. The T cell in the CSF, somehow, is able to control other inflammation cells and increase cognition when there is no infection. Then, it switches to become the most potent killer cell when infections are present while decreasing…

Immune T Cells Are Critical for Cognitive Function

FEATURE Cancer and B Cells iStock_000019908954XSmall

Immune T cells have a very complex life, travelling to different regions of the body and maturing gradually through stages to be able to engage and fight a wide range of invaders. The T cell ( T for maturation in the thymus) is one of only two cells that edits and splices its own DNA to make a vast array of different…

Astrocytes Control Synapse Function

FEATURE  Stock_000000323626Small

How can the connections of the neuron (connectome) explain the mind, without including the cells that control all phases of synapse development and function? Astrocytes, the star shaped glial cells, are the most numerous cells in the brain. Glial cells outnumber neurons five to one (different ratios in different regions)….