Neurovascular pathways to neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease and other disorders.
ABSTRACT: The neurovascular unit (NVU) comprises brain endothelial cells, pericytes or vascular smooth muscle cells, glia and neurons. The NVU controls blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability and cerebral blood flow, and maintains the chemical composition of the neuronal 'milieu', which is required for proper functioning of neuronal circuits. Recent evidence indicates that BBB dysfunction is associated with the accumulation of several vasculotoxic and neurotoxic molecules within brain parenchyma, a reduction in cerebral blood flow, and hypoxia. Together, these vascular-derived insults might initiate and/or contribute to neuronal degeneration. This article examines mechanisms of BBB dysfunction in neurodegenerative disorders, notably Alzheimer's disease, and highlights therapeutic opportunities relating to these neurovascular deficits.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The Blood-brain barrier (BBB) controls brain supply with oxygen and nutrients, and protects the brain from toxic metabolites, such as beta-amyloid (A?) peptides. The neurovascular unit (NVU) couples vascular and neuronal functions by controlling BBB parameters based on brain needs. As such, NVU/BBB dysfunction, associated to irregularities in cerebral blood flow (CBF), has been proposed to contribute in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD), mainly by impairing cerebral A? clearance. However, the spatiotemporal contribution of the NVU/BBB in the neurodegenerative cascades remains elusive.<h4>Results</h4>By using C57BL/6J mice subjected to right common carotid artery (rCCA) permanent ligation in order to induce mild chronic cerebral hypoperfusion, we show here that cerebral hypoperfusion induced NVU dysfunction by reducing ABCB1 protein expression in brain capillaries. ABCB1 reduction was mainly triggered by an enhanced Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 (GSK3?) activation, which decreased ?-catenin nuclear abundance. Moreover, cerebral hypoperfusion triggered early vascular deposition of peripherally applied human A?1-42 peptides, which has shifted from highly vascular to the parenchyma 6 weeks later, forming small stable A? deposits. Hypoperfusion induced a deregulation in glucose metabolism, as brain reperfusion, or the administration of a high dose of glucose, diminished GSK3? activation, recuperated ?-catenin nuclear abundance, reestablished ABCB1 protein expression, and prevented A? vascular early deposition. These results demonstrate that mild chronic cerebral hypoperfusion creates a metabolically deregulated microenvironment, thus triggering the brain entry and aggregation of peripherally applied human A?1-42 peptides.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Our study offers new insights on the initiation of the neurodegenerative cascades observed in AD, which could be valuable in developing adequate treatment strategies.
Project description:Neurovascular dysfunction is a primary or secondary cause in the pathogenesis of several cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative disorders, including stroke. Therefore, the overall protection of the neurovascular unit (NVU) is a promising therapeutic strategy for various neurovascular diseases. However, the complexity of the NVU limits the study of the pathological mechanisms of neurovascular dysfunction. Reconstituting the in vitro NVU is important for the pathological study and drug screening of neurovascular diseases. In this study, we generated a spontaneously assembled three-dimensional NVU (3D NVU) by employing the primary neural stem cells and brain microvascular endothelial cells in a Matrigel extracellular matrix platform. This novel model exhibits the fundamental structures and features of the NVU, including neurons, astrocytes, oligodendrocytes, vascular-like structures, and blood-brain barrier-like characteristics. Additionally, under oxygen-glucose deprivation, the 3D NVU exhibits the neurovascular- or oxidative stress-related pathological characteristics of cerebral ischemia and the injuries can be mitigated, respectively, by supplementing with the vascular endothelial growth factor or edaravone, which demonstrated that the availability of 3D NVU in ischemic stroke modeling. Finally, the 3D NVU promoted the angiogenesis and neurogenesis in the brain of cerebral ischemia rats. We expect that the proposed in vitro 3D NVU model will be widely used to investigate the relationships between angiogenesis and neurogenesis and to study the pathology and pharmacology of neurovascular diseases.
Project description:Pericytes play a key role in the development of cerebral microcirculation. The exact role of pericytes in the neurovascular unit in the adult brain and during brain aging remains, however, elusive. Using adult viable pericyte-deficient mice, we show that pericyte loss leads to brain vascular damage by two parallel pathways: (1) reduction in brain microcirculation causing diminished brain capillary perfusion, cerebral blood flow, and cerebral blood flow responses to brain activation that ultimately mediates chronic perfusion stress and hypoxia, and (2) blood-brain barrier breakdown associated with brain accumulation of serum proteins and several vasculotoxic and/or neurotoxic macromolecules ultimately leading to secondary neuronal degenerative changes. We show that age-dependent vascular damage in pericyte-deficient mice precedes neuronal degenerative changes, learning and memory impairment, and the neuroinflammatory response. Thus, pericytes control key neurovascular functions that are necessary for proper neuronal structure and function, and pericyte loss results in a progressive age-dependent vascular-mediated neurodegeneration.
Project description:Diabetes increases the risk and worsens the progression of cognitive impairment via the greater occurrence of small vessel disease and stroke. Yet, the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. It is now accepted that cardiovascular health is critical for brain health and any neurorestorative approaches to prevent/delay cognitive deficits should target the conceptual neurovascular unit (NVU) rather than neurons alone. We have recently shown that there is augmented hippocampal NVU remodeling after a remote ischemic injury in diabetes. NLRP3 inflammasome signaling has been implicated in the development of diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases, but little is known about the impact of NLRP3 activation on functional and structural interaction within the NVU of hippocampus, a critical part of the brain that is involved in forming, organizing, and storing memories. Endothelial cells are at the center of the NVU and produce trophic factors such as brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) contributing to neuronal survival, known as vasotrophic coupling. Therefore, the aims of this study focused on two hypotheses: 1) diabetes negatively impacts hippocampal NVU remodeling and worsens cognitive outcome after stroke, and 2) NLRP3 inhibition with MCC950 will improve NVU remodeling and cognitive outcome following stroke via vasotrophic (un)coupling between endothelial cells and hippocampal neurons. Stroke was induced through a 90-min transient middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) in control and high-fat diet/streptozotocin-induced (HFD/STZ) diabetic male Wistar rats. Saline or MCC950 (3?mg/kg), an inhibitor of NLRP3, was injected at 1 and 3?h after reperfusion. Cognition was assessed over time and neuronal density, blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability as well as NVU remodeling (aquaporin-4 [AQP4] polarity) was measured on day 14 after stroke. BDNF was measured in endothelial and hippocampal neuronal cultures under hypoxic and diabetes-mimicking condition with and without NLRP3 inhibition. Diabetes increased neuronal degeneration and BBB permeability, disrupted AQP4 polarity, impaired cognitive function and amplified NLRP3 activation after ischemia. Inhibition with MCC950 improved cognitive function and vascular integrity after stroke in diabetic animals and prevented hypoxia-mediated decrease in BDNF secretion. These results are the first to provide essential data showing MCC950 has the potential to become a therapeutic to prevent neurovascular remodeling and worsened cognitive decline in diabetic patients following stroke.
Project description:Heat-stroke is a serious form of hyperthermia with high mortality, and can induce severe central nervous system disorders. The neurovascular unit (NVU), which consists of vascular cells, glial cells, and neurons, controls blood-brain barrier (BBB) permeability and cerebral blood flow, and maintains the proper functioning of neuronal circuits. However, the detailed function of each BBB component in heat-stroke remains unknown. In order to interpret alterations caused by heat stress, we performed transcriptome comparison of neuron and astrocyte primary cultures after heat treatment. Differentially-expressed genes were then selected and underwent Gene Ontology annotation and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathway analysis. Gene-act networks were also constructed, and the expression of pivotal genes was validated by quantitative PCR, as well as single-cell qPCR in heat-stroke rats. Our work provides valuable information on the transcriptional changes in NVU cells after heat stress, reveals the diverse regulatory mechanisms of two of these cellular components, and shows that a cell-type-specific approach may be a promising therapeutic strategy for heat-stroke treatments.
Project description:Vascular contributions to cognitive impairment are increasingly recognized1-5 as shown by neuropathological6,7, neuroimaging4,8-11, and cerebrospinal fluid biomarker4,12 studies. Moreover, small vessel disease of the brain has been estimated to contribute to approximately 50% of all dementias worldwide, including those caused by Alzheimer's disease (AD)3,4,13. Vascular changes in AD have been typically attributed to the vasoactive and/or vasculotoxic effects of amyloid-? (A?)3,11,14, and more recently tau15. Animal studies suggest that A? and tau lead to blood vessel abnormalities and blood-brain barrier (BBB) breakdown14-16. Although neurovascular dysfunction3,11 and BBB breakdown develop early in AD1,4,5,8-10,12,13, how they relate to changes in the AD classical biomarkers A? and tau, which also develop before dementia17, remains unknown. To address this question, we studied brain capillary damage using a novel cerebrospinal fluid biomarker of BBB-associated capillary mural cell pericyte, soluble platelet-derived growth factor receptor-?8,18, and regional BBB permeability using dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging8-10. Our data show that individuals with early cognitive dysfunction develop brain capillary damage and BBB breakdown in the hippocampus irrespective of Alzheimer's A? and/or tau biomarker changes, suggesting that BBB breakdown is an early biomarker of human cognitive dysfunction independent of A? and tau.
Project description:Human apolipoprotein E has three isoforms: APOE2, APOE3 and APOE4. APOE4 is a major genetic risk factor for Alzheimer's disease and is associated with Down's syndrome dementia and poor neurological outcome after traumatic brain injury and haemorrhage. Neurovascular dysfunction is present in normal APOE4 carriers and individuals with APOE4-associated disorders. In mice, lack of Apoe leads to blood-brain barrier (BBB) breakdown, whereas APOE4 increases BBB susceptibility to injury. How APOE genotype affects brain microcirculation remains elusive. Using different APOE transgenic mice, including mice with ablation and/or inhibition of cyclophilin A (CypA), here we show that expression of APOE4 and lack of murine Apoe, but not APOE2 and APOE3, leads to BBB breakdown by activating a proinflammatory CypA-nuclear factor-?B-matrix-metalloproteinase-9 pathway in pericytes. This, in turn, leads to neuronal uptake of multiple blood-derived neurotoxic proteins, and microvascular and cerebral blood flow reductions. We show that the vascular defects in Apoe-deficient and APOE4-expressing mice precede neuronal dysfunction and can initiate neurodegenerative changes. Astrocyte-secreted APOE3, but not APOE4, suppressed the CypA-nuclear factor-?B-matrix-metalloproteinase-9 pathway in pericytes through a lipoprotein receptor. Our data suggest that CypA is a key target for treating APOE4-mediated neurovascular injury and the resulting neuronal dysfunction and degeneration.
Project description:Cognitive functions are dependent upon intercommunications between the cellular components of the neurovascular unit (NVU). Vascular risk factors are associated with a more rapid rate of cognitive decline with aging and cerebrovascular diseases magnify both the incidence and the rate of cognitive decline. The causal relationship between vascular risk factors and injury to the NVU is, however, lacking. We hypothesized that vascular risk factors, such as hypertension and dyslipidemia, promote disruption of the NVU leading to early cognitive impairment. We compared brain structure and cerebrovascular functions of 1-year old (middle-aged) male wild-type (WT) and atherosclerotic hypertensive (LDLr-/-:hApoB+/+, ATX) mice. In addition, mice were subjected, or not, to a transverse aortic constriction (TAC) for 6 weeks to assess the acute impact of an increase in systolic blood pressure on the NVU and cognitive functions. Compared with WT mice, ATX mice prematurely developed cognitive decline associated with cerebral micro-hemorrhages, loss of microvessel density and brain atrophy, cerebral endothelial cell senescence and dysfunction, brain inflammation, and oxidative stress associated with blood-brain barrier leakage and brain hypoperfusion. These data suggest functional disturbances in both vascular and parenchymal components of the NVU. Exposure to TAC-induced systolic hypertension promoted cerebrovascular damage and cognitive decline in WT mice, similar to those observed in sham-operated ATX mice; TAC exacerbated the existing cerebrovascular dysfunctions and cognitive failure in ATX mice. Thus, a hemodynamic stress such as systolic hypertension could initiate the cascade involving cerebrovascular injury and NVU deregulation and lead to cognitive decline, a process accelerated in atherosclerotic mice.
Project description:During experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a model for multiple sclerosis associated with blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption, oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) overexpress proteoglycan nerve/glial antigen 2 (NG2), proliferate, and make contacts with the microvessel wall. To explore whether OPCs may actually be recruited within the neurovascular unit (NVU), de facto intervening in its cellular and molecular composition, we quantified by immunoconfocal morphometry the presence of OPCs in contact with brain microvessels, during postnatal cerebral cortex vascularization at postnatal day 6, in wild-type (WT) and NG2 knock-out (NG2KO) mice, and in the cortex of adult naïve and EAE-affected WT and NG2KO mice. As observed in WT mice during postnatal development, a higher number of juxtavascular and perivascular OPCs was revealed in adult WT mice during EAE compared to adult naïve WT mice. In EAE-affected mice, OPCs were mostly associated with microvessels that showed altered claudin-5 and occludin tight junction (TJ) staining patterns and barrier leakage. In contrast, EAE-affected NG2KO mice, which did not show any significant increase in vessel-associated OPCs, seemed to retain better preserved TJs and BBB integrity. As expected, absence of NG2, in both OPCs and pericytes, led to a reduced content of vessel basal lamina molecules, laminin, collagen VI, and collagen IV. In addition, analysis of the major ligand/receptor systems known to promote OPC proliferation and migration indicated that vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A), platelet-derived growth factor-AA (PDGF-AA), and the transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) were the molecules most likely involved in proliferation and recruitment of vascular OPCs during EAE. These results were confirmed by real time-PCR that showed Fgf2, Pdgfa and Tgfb expression on isolated cerebral cortex microvessels and by dual RNAscope-immunohistochemistry/in situ hybridization (IHC/ISH), which detected Vegfa and Vegfr2 transcripts on cerebral cortex sections. Overall, this study suggests that vascular OPCs, in virtue of their developmental arrangement and response to neuroinflammation and growth factors, could be integrated among the classical NVU cell components. Moreover, the synchronized activation of vascular OPCs and pericytes during both BBB development and dysfunction, points to NG2 as a key regulator of vascular interactions.
Project description:Disruption of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) results in cerebral edema formation, which is a major cause for high mortality after traumatic brain injury (TBI). As anesthetic care is mandatory in patients suffering from severe TBI it may be important to elucidate the effect of different anesthetics on cerebral edema formation. Tight junction proteins (TJ) such as zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1) and claudin-5 (cl5) play a central role for BBB stability. First, the influence of the volatile anesthetics sevoflurane and isoflurane on in-vitro BBB integrity was investigated by quantification of the electrical resistance (TEER) in murine brain endothelial monolayers and neurovascular co-cultures of the BBB. Secondly brain edema and TJ expression of ZO-1 and cl5 were measured in-vivo after exposure towards volatile anesthetics in native mice and after controlled cortical impact (CCI). In in-vitro endothelial monocultures, both anesthetics significantly reduced TEER within 24 hours after exposure. In BBB co-cultures mimicking the neurovascular unit (NVU) volatile anesthetics had no impact on TEER. In healthy mice, anesthesia did not influence brain water content and TJ expression, while 24 hours after CCI brain water content increased significantly stronger with isoflurane compared to sevoflurane. In line with the brain edema data, ZO-1 expression was significantly higher in sevoflurane compared to isoflurane exposed CCI animals. Immunohistochemical analyses revealed disruption of ZO-1 at the cerebrovascular level, while cl5 was less affected in the pericontusional area. The study demonstrates that anesthetics influence brain edema formation after experimental TBI. This effect may be attributed to modulation of BBB permeability by differential TJ protein expression. Therefore, selection of anesthetics may influence the barrier function and introduce a strong bias in experimental research on pathophysiology of BBB dysfunction. Future research is required to investigate adverse or beneficial effects of volatile anesthetics on patients at risk for cerebral edema.