Brain ventricles: anatomy, features and functions

Our brain is a complex organ, made up of a large number of different structures that enable it to perform many different functions.

One of the different systems that are part of the brain and that allow its structuring and maintenance is the cerebral ventricular system, that is to say the network of cerebral ventricles.

    The ventricular system: definition and origin

    The ventricles of the brain are a series of structures located inside the brain that they are interconnected forming what is called the vestibular system. The ventricles themselves are said to be enlargements of this system which form a series of ependymal cavities.

    In the ventricular system most of the cerebrospinal fluid comes from (It is estimated that just over 60%), especially in the structures and ependymal cells of the choroid plexuses.

    The ventricular system originates from the fetus in the third trimester of the week of pregnancy, Evolution of the central channel of the neural tube. It consists of a total of four ventricles and the different channels that communicate them.

      Components of the ventricular system

      It has a total of four brain ventricles, interconnected by various channels and openings.

      Above and just below the corpus callosum we find the lateral ventricles, A pair of twin ventricles found along the cerebral hemispheres. It is in these ventricles that we mainly find the choroid plexuses, where most of the cerebrospinal fluid is generated.

      these they communicate through the interventricular orifice or Monroid with the third ventricle, Which is located under the thalamus. Finally, the third and fourth ventricles (located between the brainstem and the cerebellum) communicate through the cerebral aqueduct or Silvio.

      The fourth ventricle connects to the spinal cord through the ependymal duct, Which runs through the entire spinal cord and allows cerebrospinal fluid to flow through it to its end in what is called the terminal ventricle.

      The fourth ventricle it also connects through the orifices of Luschka and Magendie with the arachnoid, thus allowing cerebrospinal fluid to be distributed throughout the brain.

      Functions of the cerebral ventricles

      The ventricles of the brain and the ventricular system in general may appear to be a developmental residue that does not have too many functions, but they are in fact very important elements in maintaining the health and condition of the brain. .

      Some of their main functions are as follows.

      1. Production of cerebrospinal fluid

      It is the main function of the cerebral ventricles. Although it is also secreted in small amounts by other structures such as the subarachnoid space, most of the cerebrospinal fluid that we possess is usually secreted by the choroid plexuses of the ventricular system.

      This fluid provides a means by which the brain eliminates waste from its activity while creating a stable environment for the functioning of neurons, and even help nourish and facilitate the functioning of cells. It also allows the brain to float, reducing its weight, while helping to protect it from external agents and damage. Finally, it allows the brain’s internal pressure level to remain stable.

      2. They help keep the brain healthy

      The choroidal plexuses, in addition to producing cerebrospinal fluid, help prevent harmful external substances from affecting it and reaching the rest of the brain, so that they help keep the brain healthy.

      3. Maintaining the shape and structure of the brain

      The cerebral ventricles they can grow considerably depending on the body’s needs. While this may seem like an unimportant function, it allows you to maintain the structure of the brain and its interconnections. In addition, the cerebrospinal fluid produced there helps keep the brain afloat and reduces the level of intracranial pressure.

      Alterations caused by various disorders

      As we mentioned, one of the functions of the ventricles is maintain the shape and stability of the whole brain. In fact, in various disorders in which there is loss of neuronal mass in the ventricles of the brain, they expand to take up free space. Here are some of the alterations that cause some kind of effect on the brain ventricles.

      Alzheimer’s disease

      Alzheimer’s disease causes a large number of neurons to deteriorate and die throughout its development, decreasing neuronal density as the disease progresses. The unoccupied space is filled by the ventricles, Which extend to take the place.

        schizophrenia

        Several studies have shown that many people with schizophrenia have larger ventricles.

        hydrocephalus

        Hydrocephalus in a disorder characterized by excessive production of cerebrospinal fluid, an imbalance between production and reabsorption, or poor circulation of it through the ventricles or their interconnections. It is a very serious problem which it can cause serious damage or even lead to death of the subject due to compression of brain structures.

          Ventriculitis

          It is a disorder which it is based on inflammation cerebral ventricles. As with meningitis, this inflammation can be dangerous due to the pressure exerted by the ventricles against the rest of the nervous system. In addition, a ventricular infection can cause changes in the cerebrospinal fluid or the vascular system, which can eventually lead to encephalitis.

          Bibliographical references:

          • Kandel, ER; Schwartz, JH; Jessell, TM (2001). Principles of neuroscience. Madrid: McGraw Hill.

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