Abstract Neural signalling within the central nervous system (CNS) requires a highly controlled microenvironment. Cells at three key interfaces form barriers between the blood and the CNS: the blood–brain barrier (BBB), blood–CSF barrier and the arachnoid barrier. The BBB at the level of brain microvessel endothelium is the major site of blood–CNS exchange. The structure and function of the BBB is summarised, the physical barrier formed by the endothelial tight junctions, and the transport barrier resulting from membrane transporters and vesicular mechanisms. The roles of associated cells are outlined, especially the endfeet of astrocytic glial cells, and pericytes and microglia. The embryonic development of the BBB, and changes in pathology are described. The BBB is subject to short and long-term regulation, which may be disturbed in pathology. Any programme for drug discovery or delivery, to target or avoid the CNS, needs to consider the special features of the BBB.
Abstract Parkinson's disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease, after Alzheimer's disease. The potential causes of PD remain uncertain, but recent studies suggest neuroinflammation and microglia activation play important roles in PD pathogenesis. Major unanswered questions include whether protein aggregates cause the selective loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra that underlies the clinical symptoms and whether neuroinflammation is a consequence or a cause of nigral cell loss. Within the microenvironment of the brain, glial cells play a critical role in homeostatic mechanisms that promote neuronal survival. Microglia have a specialized immune surveillance role and mediate innate immune responses to invading pathogens by secreting a myriad of factors that include, cytokines, chemokines, prostaglandins, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, and growth factors. Some of these factors have neuroprotective and trophic activities and aid in brain repair processes; while others enhance oxidative stress and trigger apoptotic cascades in neurons. Therefore, pro- and anti-inflammatory responses must be in balance to prevent the potential detrimental effects of prolonged or unregulated inflammation-induced oxidative stress on vulnerable neuronal populations. In this review, we discuss potential triggers of neuroinflammation and review the strongest direct evidence that chronic neuroinflammation may have a more important role to play in PD versus other neurodegenerative diseases. Alternatively, we propose that genetic deficiency is not the only way to reduce protective factors in the brain which may function to keep microglial responses in check or regulate the sensitivity of DA neurons. If chronic inflammation can be shown to decrease the levels of neuroprotective factors in the midbrain, in essence genetic haploinsufficiency of protective factors such as Parkin or RGS10 may result from purely environmental triggers (aging, chronic systemic disease, etc.), increasing the vulnerability to inflammation-induced nigral DA neuron death and predisposing an individual to development of PD. Lastly, we review the latest epidemiological and experimental evidence supporting the potential use of anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory drugs as neuroprotective agents to delay the progressive nigrostriatal degeneration that leads to motor dysfunction in PD.
Abstract The central nervous system is protected by barriers which control the entry of compounds into the brain, thereby regulating brain homeostasis. The blood–brain barrier, formed by the endothelial cells of the brain capillaries, restricts access to brain cells of blood–borne compounds and facilitates nutrients essential for normal metabolism to reach brain cells. This very tight regulation of the brain homeostasis results in the inability of some small and large therapeutic compounds to cross the blood–brain barrier (BBB). Therefore, various strategies are being developed to enhance the amount and concentration of therapeutic compounds in the brain. In this review, we will address the different approaches used to increase the transport of therapeutics from blood into the brain parenchyma. We will mainly concentrate on the physiologic approach which takes advantage of specific receptors already expressed on the capillary endothelial cells forming the BBB and necessary for the survival of brain cells. Among all the approaches used for increasing brain delivery of therapeutics, the most accepted method is the use of the physiological approach which takes advantage of the transcytosis capacity of specific receptors expressed at the BBB. The low density lipoprotein receptor related protein (LRP) is the most adapted for such use with the engineered peptide compound (EPiC) platform incorporating the Angiopep peptide in new therapeutics the most advanced with promising data in the clinic.
Abstract Autophagy, the major degradative pathway for organelles and long-lived proteins, is essential for the survival of neurons. Mounting evidence has implicated defective autophagy in the pathogenesis of several major neurodegenerative diseases, particularly Alzheimer's disease (AD). A continuum of abnormalities of the lysosomal system has been identified in neurons of the AD brain, including pathological endocytic pathway responses at the very earliest disease stage and a progressive disruption of autophagy leading to the massive buildup of incompletely digested substrates within dystrophic axons and dendrites. In this review, we examine research on autophagy in AD and evaluate evidence addressing the specific step or steps along the autophagy pathway that may be defective. Current evidence strongly points to disruption of substrate proteolysis within autolysosomes for the principal mechanism underlying autophagy failure in AD. In the most common form of familial early onset AD, mutant presenilin 1 disrupts autophagy directly by impeding lysosomal proteolysis while, in other forms of AD, autophagy impairments may involve different genetic or environmental factors. Attempts to restore more normal lysosomal proteolysis and autophagy efficiency in mouse models of AD pathology have yielded promising therapeutic effects on neuronal function and cognitive performance, demonstrating the relevance of autophagy failure to the pathogenesis of AD and the potential of autophagy modulation as a therapeutic strategy. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled “Autophagy and protein degradation in neurological diseases.”
Abstract The pathogenic mechanisms that underlie Parkinson's disease remain unknown. Here, we review evidence from both sporadic and genetic forms of Parkinson's disease that implicate both mitochondria and oxidative stress as central players in disease pathogenesis. A systemic deficiency in complex I of the mitochondrial electron transport chain is evident in many patients with the disease. Oxidative stress caused by reactive metabolites of dopamine and alterations in the levels of iron and glutathione in the substantia nigra accompany this mitochondrial dysfunction. Recent evidence from studies on the genetic forms of parkinsonism with particular stress on DJ-1, parkin, and PINK-1 also suggest the involvement of mitochondria and oxidative stress.
Abstract Alpha-synuclein aggregation plays a central role in Parkinson's disease pathology. Direct transmission of alpha-synuclein from pathologically affected to healthy unaffected neurons may be important in the anatomical spread of the disease through the nervous system. We have demonstrated that exosomes released from alpha-synuclein over-expressing SH-SY5Y cells contained alpha-synuclein and these exosomes were capable of efficiently transferring alpha-synuclein protein to normal SH-SY5Y cells. Moreover, the incubation of cells with ammonium chloride or bafilomycin A1 to produce the lysosomal dysfunction recently reported in Parkinson's disease led to an increase in the release of alpha-synuclein in exosomes and a concomitant increase in alpha-synuclein transmission to recipient cells. This study clearly demonstrates the importance of exosomes in both the release of alpha synuclein and its transmission between cells and suggests that factors associated with PD pathology accelerate this process. These mechanisms may play an important role in PD pathology and provide a suitable target for therapeutic intervention.
Abstract Apolipoprotein (apo) E is a multifunctional protein with central roles in lipid metabolism, neurobiology, and neurodegenerative diseases. It has three major isoforms (apoE2, apoE3, and apoE4) with different effects on lipid and neuronal homeostasis. A major function of apoE is to mediate the binding of lipoproteins or lipid complexes in the plasma or interstitial fluids to specific cell-surface receptors. These receptors internalize apoE-containing lipoprotein particles; thus, apoE participates in the distribution/redistribution of lipids among various tissues and cells of the body. In addition, intracellular apoE may modulate various cellular processes physiologically or pathophysiologically, including cytoskeletal assembly and stability, mitochondrial integrity and function, and dendritic morphology and function. Elucidation of the functional domains within this protein and of the three-dimensional structure of the major isoforms of apoE has contributed significantly to our understanding of its physiological and pathophysiological roles at a molecular level. It is likely that apoE, with its multiple cellular origins and multiple structural and biophysical properties, is involved widely in processes of lipid metabolism and neurobiology, possibly encompassing a variety of disorders of neuronal repair, remodeling, and degeneration by interacting with different factors through various pathways.
Abstract Hypoxic preconditioning of stem cells and neural progenitor cells has been tested for promoting cell survival after transplantation. The present investigation examined the hypothesis that hypoxic preconditioning of bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) could not only enhance their survival but also reinforce regenerative properties of these cells. BMSCs from eGFP engineered rats or pre-labeled with BrdU were pre-treated with normoxia (20% O2 , N-BMSCs) or sub-lethal hypoxia (0.5% O2 . H-BMSCs). The hypoxia exposure up-regulated HIF-1α and trophic/growth factors in BMSCs, including brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), glial cell-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and its receptor FIK-1, erythropoietin (EPO) and its receptor EPOR, stromal derived factor-1 (SDF-1) and its CXC chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4). Meanwhile, many pro-inflammatory cytokines/chemokines were down-regulated in H-BMSCs. N-BMSCs or H-BMSCs were intravenously injected into adult rats 24 h after 90-min middle cerebral artery occlusion. Comparing to N-BMSCs, transplantation of H-BMSCs showed greater effect of suppressing microglia activity in the brain. Significantly more NeuN-positive and Glut1-positive cells were seen in the ischemic core and peri-infarct regions of the animals received H-BMSC transplantation than that received N-BMSCs. Some NeuN-positive and Glut-1-positive cells showed eGFP or BrdU immunoflourescent reactivity, suggesting differentiation from exogenous BMSCs into neuronal and vascular endothelial cells. In Rotarod test performed 15 days after stroke, animals received H-BMSCs showed better locomotion recovery compared with stroke control and N-BMSC groups. We suggest that hypoxic preconditioning of transplanted cells is an effective means of promoting their regenerative capability and therapeutic potential for the treatment of ischemic stroke.
Abstract The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is formed by the endothelial cells of cerebral microvessels, providing a dynamic interface between the peripheral circulation and the central nervous system. The tight junctions (TJs) between the endothelial cells serve to restrict blood-borne substances from entering the brain. Under ischemic stroke conditions decreased BBB TJ integrity results in increased paracellular permeability, directly contributing to cerebral vasogenic edema, hemorrhagic transformation, and increased mortality. This loss of TJ integrity occurs in a phasic manner, which is contingent on several interdependent mechanisms (ionic dysregulation, inflammation, oxidative and nitrosative stress, enzymatic activity, and angiogenesis). Understanding the inter-relation of these mechanisms is critical for the development of new therapies. This review focuses on those aspects of ischemic stroke impacting BBB TJ integrity and the principle regulatory pathways, respective to the phases of paracellular permeability.
Abstract Abnormal oxidative stress is an established feature of Alzheimer's disease, but clinical trials aiming to reduce oxidative stress have not yet proven an effective therapy for dementia patients. The purpose of this review is to systematically analyze available data describing markers of oxidative stress and antioxidants in blood from subjects with Alzheimer's disease or those with mild cognitive impairment to highlight potential interactions between peripheral redox changes and central nervous system pathology and contribute to the design of future clinical study. PubMed, SCOPUS and Web of Science were systematically queried to collect studies which have evaluated markers of oxidative stress, levels of antioxidants, copper, transferrin and ceruloplasmin levels in blood from subjects with Alzheimer's disease and matched controls. After application of quality measures, results were aggregated in a random effects analysis. We found that markers of lipid peroxidation are elevated in blood in Alzheimer's disease and in mild cognitive impairment, copper metabolism is dysregulated and total antioxidant capacity is decreased. While surprisingly none of the major antioxidative enzymes are significantly decreased, non-enzymatic antioxidants in blood (particularly uric acid, vitamins A, E and C, α- and β-carotene) are significantly decreased. There is significant oxidative damage in peripheral blood early in the process of neurodegeneration. We propose that clinical studies assessing cognitive outcomes after antioxidant therapy tailor interventions to individual patients' deficiencies and confirm an improvement in an appropriate serological marker of oxidative stress. This strategy may be most effectively applied in a clinical trial of primary prevention.
Abstract Neurodegeneration in the brains of Huntington's disease patients is accompanied by widespread changes in gene regulatory networks. Recent studies have found that these changes are not restricted to protein-coding genes, but also include non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). One particularly abundant but poorly understood class of ncRNAs is the long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), of which at least ten thousand have been identified in the human genome. Although we presently know little about their function, lncRNAs are widely expressed in the mammalian nervous system, and many are likely to play critical roles in neuronal development and activity. LncRNAs are now being implicated in neurodegenerative processes, including Alzheimer's (AD) and Huntington's disease (HD). In the present study, I discuss the potential significance of lncRNAs in HD. To support this, I have mined existing microarray data to discover seven new lncRNAs that are dysregulated in HD brains. Interestingly, several of these contain genomic binding sites for the transcriptional repressor REST, a key mediator of transcriptional changes in HD, including the known REST target lncRNA, DGCR5. Previously described lncRNAs TUG1 (necessary for retinal development) and NEAT1 (a structural component of nuclear paraspeckles) are upregulated in HD caudate, while the brain-specific tumour-suppressor MEG3 is downregulated. Three other lncRNAs of unknown function are also significantly changed in HD brains. Many lncRNAs regulate gene expression through formation of epigenetic ribonucleoprotein complexes, including TUG1 and MEG3. These findings lead me to propose that lncRNA expression changes in HD are widespread, that many of these result in altered epigenetic gene regulation in diseased neurons, and that contributes to neurodegeneration. Therefore, elucidating lncRNA network changes in HD may be important in understanding and treating this and other neurodegenerative processes.
Abstract Previous studies demonstrate that intrastriatal injections of fibrillar alpha-synuclein (α-syn) into mice induce Parkinson's disease (PD)-like Lewy body (LB) pathology formed by aggregated α-syn in anatomically interconnected regions and significant nigrostriatal degeneration. The aim of the current study was to evaluate whether exogenous mouse α-syn pre-formed fibrils (PFF) injected into the striatum of rats would result in accumulation of LB-like intracellular inclusions and nigrostriatal degeneration. Sprague–Dawley rats received unilateral intrastriatal injections of either non-fibrillized recombinant α-syn or PFF mouse α-syn in 1- or 2- sites and were euthanized at 30, 60 or 180 days post-injection (pi). Both non-fibrillized recombinant α-syn and PFF α-syn injections resulted in phosphorylated α-syn intraneuronal accumulations (i.e., diffuse Lewy neurite (LN)- and LB-like inclusions) with significantly greater accumulations following PFF injection. LB-like inclusions were observed in several areas that innervate the striatum, most prominently the frontal and insular cortices, the amygdala, and the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNpc). α-Syn accumulations co-localized with ubiquitin, p62, and were thioflavin-S-positive and proteinase-k resistant, suggesting that PFF-induced pathology exhibits properties similar to human LBs. Although α-syn inclusions within the SNpc remained ipsilateral to striatal injection, we observed bilateral reductions in nigral dopamine neurons at the 180-day time-point in both the 1- and 2-site PFF injection paradigms. PFF injected rats exhibited bilateral reductions in striatal dopaminergic innervation at 60 and 180 days and bilateral decreases in homovanillic acid; however, dopamine reduction was observed only in the striatum ipsilateral to PFF injection. Although the level of dopamine asymmetry in PFF injected rats at 180 days was insufficient to elicit motor deficits in amphetamine-induced rotations or forelimb use in the cylinder task, significant disruption of ultrasonic vocalizations was observed. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that α-syn PFF are sufficient to seed the pathological conversion and propagation of endogenous α-syn to induce a progressive, neurodegenerative model of α-synucleinopathy in rats.
Abstract Glioma is the commonest form of primary brain tumor in adults with varying malignancy grades and histological subtypes. Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are a novel class of non-protein-coding transcripts that have been shown to play important roles in cancer development. To discover novel tumor-related lncRNAs and determine their associations with glioma subtypes, we first applied a lncRNA classification pipeline to identify 1970 lncRNAs that were represented on Affymetrix HG-U133 Plus 2.0 array. We then analyzed the lncRNA expression patterns in a set of previously published glioma gene expression profiles of 268 clinical specimens, and identified sets of lncRNAs that were unique to different histological subtypes (astrocytic versus oligodendroglial tumors) and malignancy grades. These lncRNAs signatures were then subject to validation in another non-overlapping, independent data set that contained 157 glioma samples. This is the first reported study that correlates lncRNA expression profiles with malignancy grade and histological differentiation in human gliomas. Our findings indicate the potential roles of lncRNAs in the biogenesis, development and differentiation of gliomas, and provide an important platform for future studies.
Abstract Aerobes require oxygen for metabolism and normal free radical formation. As a result, maintaining the redox homeostasis is essential for brain cell survival due to their high metabolic energy requirement to sustain electrochemical gradients, neurotransmitter release, and membrane lipid stability. Further, brain antioxidant levels are limited compared to other organs and less able to compensate for reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS/RNS) generation which contribute oxidative/nitrative stress (OS/NS). Antioxidant treatments such as vitamin E, minocycline, and resveratrol mediate neuroprotection by prolonging the incidence of or reversing OS and NS conditions. Redox imbalance occurs when the antioxidant capacity is overwhelmed, consequently leading to activation of alternate pathways that remain quiescent under normal conditions. If OS/NS fails to lead to adaptation, tissue damage and injury ensue, resulting in cell death and/or disease. The progression of OS/NS-mediated neurodegeneration along with contributions from microglial activation, dopamine metabolism, and diabetes comprise a detailed interconnected pathway. This review proposes a significant role for OS/NS and more specifically, lipid peroxidation (LPO) and other lipid modifications, by triggering microglial activation to elicit a neuroinflammatory state potentiated by diabetes or abnormal dopamine metabolism. Subsequently, sustained stress in the neuroinflammatory state overwhelms cellular defenses and prompts neurotoxicity resulting in the onset or amplification of brain damage.
Abstract Olfactory dysfunction is an early ‘pre-clinical’ sign of Parkinson's disease (PD). The present review is a comprehensive and up-to-date assessment of such dysfunction in PD and related disorders. The olfactory bulb is implicated in the dysfunction, since only those syndromes with olfactory bulb pathology exhibit significant smell loss. The role of dopamine in the production of olfactory system pathology is enigmatic, as overexpression of dopaminergic cells within the bulb's glomerular layer is a common feature of PD and most animal models of PD. Damage to cholinergic, serotonergic, and noradrenergic systems is likely involved, since such damage is most marked in those diseases with the most smell loss. When compromised, these systems, which regulate microglial activity, can influence the induction of localized brain inflammation, oxidative damage, and cytosolic disruption of cellular processes. In monogenetic forms of PD, olfactory dysfunction is rarely observed in asymptomatic gene carriers, but is present in many of those that exhibit the motor phenotype. This suggests that such gene-related influences on olfaction, when present, take time to develop and depend upon additional factors, such as those from aging, other genes, formation of α-synuclein- and tau-related pathology, or lowered thresholds to oxidative stress from toxic insults. The limited data available suggest that the physiological determinants of the early changes in PD-related olfactory function are likely multifactorial and may include the same determinants as those responsible for a number of other non-motor symptoms of PD, such as dysautonomia and sleep disturbances.
Abstract Alzheimer's disease (AD) afflicts more than 5.4 million Americans and ranks as the most common type of dementia (Thies and Bleiler, 2011), yet effective pharmacological treatments have not been identified. Substantial evidence indicates that physical activity enhances learning and memory for people of all ages, including individuals that suffer from cognitive impairment. The mechanisms that underlie these benefits have been explored using animal models, including transgenic models of AD. Accumulating research shows that physical activity reinstates hippocampal function by enhancing the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and other growth factors that promote neurogenesis, angiogenesis, and synaptic plasticity. In addition, several studies have found that physical activity counteracts age- and AD-associated declines in mitochondrial and immune system function. A growing body of evidence also suggests that exercise interventions hold the potential to reduce the pathological features associated with AD. Taken together, animal and human studies indicate that exercise provides a powerful stimulus that can countervail the molecular changes that underlie the progressive loss of hippocampal function in advanced age and AD.
Abstract Late-onset dementia is a major health concern in the ageing population. Alzheimer's disease (AD) accounts for the largest proportion (65–70%) of dementia cases in the older population. Despite considerable research effort, the pathogenesis of late-onset AD remains unclear. Substantial evidence suggests that the neurodegenerative process is initiated by chronic cerebral hypoperfusion (CCH) caused by ageing and cardiovascular conditions. CCH causes reduced oxygen, glucose and other nutrient supply to the brain, with direct damage not only to the parenchymal cells, but also to the blood–brain barrier (BBB), a key mediator of cerebral homeostasis. BBB dysfunction mediates the indirect neurotoxic effects of CCH by promoting oxidative stress, inflammation, paracellular permeability, and dysregulation of nitric oxide, a key regulator of regional blood flow. As such, BBB dysfunction mediates a vicious circle in which cerebral perfusion is reduced further and the neurodegenerative process is accelerated. Endothelial interaction with pericytes and astrocytes could also play a role in the process. Reciprocal interactions between vascular dysfunction and neurodegeneration could further contribute to the development of the disease. A comprehensive overview of the complex scenario of interacting endothelium-mediated processes is currently lacking, and could prospectively contribute to the identification of adequate therapeutic interventions. This study reviews the current literature of in vitro and ex vivo studies on endothelium-mediated mechanisms underlying vascular dysfunction in AD pathogenesis, with the aim of presenting a comprehensive overview of the complex network of causative relationships. Particular emphasis is given to vicious circles which can accelerate the process of neurovascular degeneration.
Abstract Compelling evidence indicates that the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway is involved in cellular senescence, organismal aging and age-dependent diseases. mTOR is a conserved serine/threonine kinase that is known to be part of two different protein complexes: mTORC1 and mTORC2, which differ in some components and in upstream and downstream signalling. In multicellular organisms, mTOR regulates cell growth and metabolism in response to nutrients, growth factors and cellular energy conditions. Growing studies highlight that disturbance in mTOR signalling in the brain affects multiple pathways including glucose metabolism, energy production, mitochondrial function, cell growth and autophagy. All these events are key players in age-related cognitive decline such as development of Alzheimer disease (AD). The current review discusses the main regulatory roles of mTOR signalling in the brain, in particular focusing on autophagy, glucose metabolism and mitochondrial functions. Targeting mTOR in the CNS can offer new prospective for drug discovery; however further studies are needed for a comprehensive understanding of mTOR, which lies at the crossroads of multiple signals involved in AD etiology and pathogenesis.
Abstract We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of neural predictors of response to the most commonly used, evidence based treatments in clinical practice, namely pharmacological and psychological therapies. Investigations of medication-free subjects suffering from a current major depressive episode who underwent positron emission tomography (PET) or functional or structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans prior to the initiation of treatment were reviewed. Results of 20 studies from 15 independent samples were included in the functional imaging meta-analysis and 9 studies from 6 independent samples in the structural neuroimaging meta-analysis. Regional activations with prognostic value include the well replicated finding that increased baseline activity in the anterior cingulate is predictive of a higher likelihood of improvement. As well, increased baseline activation in the insula and striatum is associated with higher likelihood of a poorer clinical response. Structural neuroimaging studies indicated that a decrease in right hippocampal volume is a statistically significant predictor of poorer treatment response. Overall, the predictive information that is measurable with brain imaging techniques is both multimodal and regionally distributed as it contains functional as well as structural correlates which encompass several brain regions within a frontostriatal–limbic network. To develop clinically relevant, prognostic markers will require high predictive accuracy at the level of the individual. Predicting clinical response will help to stratify patients and to identify at an early stage those patients who may require more intensive or combined therapies. We propose that structural and functional neuroimaging show significant potential for the development of prognostic markers of clinical response in the treatment of depression.
Abstract Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a chronic neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the pathological accumulation of amyloid beta (Aβ) peptides and neurofibrillary tangles containing hyperphosphorylated neuronal tau protein. AD pathology is also characterized by chronic brain inflammation, which promotes disease pathogenesis. In this context, the blood-brain barrier (BBB), a highly specialized endothelial cell membrane that lines cerebral microvessels, represents the interface between neural cells and circulating cells of the immune system. The BBB thus plays a key role in the generation and maintenance of chronic inflammation during AD. The BBB operates within the neurovascular unit (NVU), which includes clusters of glial cells, neurons and pericytes. The NVU becomes dysfunctional during AD, and each of its components may undergo functional changes that contribute to neuronal injury and cognitive deficit. In transgenic animals with AD-like pathology, recent studies have shown that circulating leukocytes migrate through the activated brain endothelium when certain adhesion molecules are expressed, penetrating into the brain parenchyma, interacting with the NVU components and potentially affecting their structural integrity and functionality. Therefore, migrating immune system cells in cerebral vessels act in concert with the modified BBB and may be integrated into the dysfunctional NVU. Notably, blocking the adhesion mechanisms controlling leukocyte–endothelial interactions inhibits both Aβ deposition and tau hyperphosphorylation, and reduces memory loss in AD models. The characterization of molecular mechanisms controlling vascular inflammation and leukocyte trafficking could therefore help to determine the basis of BBB dysfunction during AD and may lead to the development of new therapeutic approaches.