The Role of Brain Vasculature in Neurodegenerative Disorders

Posted October 25, 2018

A vast network of arteries, capillaries, and veins is required to keep the 86 billion neurons in the brain functioning properly. In a review published in Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Dr. Berislav Zlokovic, member of the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund Research Leadership Group, outlines the vascular dysfunction that precedes the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease and proposes a new model of Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers that links brain vascular changes to neurodegeneration.

Nature Reviews Neuroscience:

An adequate supply of blood and structural and functional integrity of blood vessels are key to normal brain functioning. On the other hand, cerebral blood flow shortfalls and blood-brain barrier dysfunction are early findings in neurodegenerative disorders in humans and animal models. Here the authors first examine the molecular definition of cerebral blood vessels, as well as pathways regulating cerebral blood flow and blood-brain barrier integrity. Then the scientists examine the role of cerebral blood flow and blood-brain barrier in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and multiple sclerosis. The scientists focus on Alzheimer’s disease as a platform for analysis because more is known about neurovascular dysfunction in this disease than in other neurodegenerative disorders. Finally, the authors propose a hypothetical model of Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers to include brain vasculature as a factor contributing to the disease onset and progression and suggest a common pathway linking brain vascular contributions to neurodegeneration in multiple neurodegenerative disorders.

“A biomarker in the brain’s circulation system may be Alzheimer’s earliest warning.”