Acta Neuropathologica

, Volume 118, Issue 2, pp 197-217

First online:

Pathology and new players in the pathogenesis of brain edema

  • Sukriti NagAffiliated withDepartment of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, Banting Institute, University of Toronto Email author 
  • , Janet L. ManiasAffiliated withDepartment of Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology, Banting Institute, University of Toronto
  • , Duncan J. StewartAffiliated withOttawa Health Research Institute, University of Ottawa

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Brain edema continues to be a major cause of mortality after diverse types of brain pathologies such as major cerebral infarcts, hemorrhages, trauma, infections and tumors. The classification of edema into vasogenic, cytotoxic, hydrocephalic and osmotic has stood the test of time although it is recognized that in most clinical situations there is a combination of different types of edema during the course of the disease. Basic information about the types of edema is provided for better understanding of the expression pattern of some of the newer molecules implicated in the pathogenesis of brain edema. These molecules include the aquaporins, matrix metalloproteinases and growth factors such as vascular endothelial growth factors A and B and the angiopoietins. The potential of these agents in the treatment of edema is discussed. Since many molecules are involved in the pathogenesis of brain edema, effective treatment cannot be achieved by a single agent but will require the administration of a “magic bullet” containing a variety of agents released at different times during the course of edema in order to be successful.


Angiopoietins Aquaporins Blood–brain barrier Brain edema Caveolin-1 Claudin-5 Cold injury Cytotoxic edema JAM-A Matrix metalloproteinases Occludin VEGF-A VEGF-B Vasogenic edema