, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 52-63
Date: 21 Apr 2010

Brain Endothelial Cell Death: Modes, Signaling Pathways, and Relevance to Neural Development, Homeostasis, and Disease

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Emerging evidence indicates that brain microvascular endothelial cells play a critical role in brain development, maturation, and homeostasis. Acute or chronic insults, including oxidative stress, oxygen–glucose deprivation, trauma, infections, inflammatory cytokines, DNA damaging agents, β-amyloid deposition, and endoplasmic reticulum stress induce brain endothelial cell dysfunction and damage, which can result in cell death. The homeostatic balance between endothelial cell survival and endothelial cell death is critical for brain development, remodeling, and repair. On the other hand, dysregulation of brain endothelial cell death exacerbates, or even initiates, several inflammatory, ischemic, and degenerative disorders of the central nervous system. In here, the morphological, biochemical, and functional characteristics of the brain endothelium and its contribution to brain homeostasis will be reviewed. Recent insights into modalities and regulatory pathways involved in brain endothelial cell death will be described. The effects of regulated and dysregulated endothelial cell death leading to angiogenesis will be outlined. The relevance of brain endothelial cell dysfunction and death to disease processes will be discussed with special reference to recent findings that could help translate current knowledge on brain endothelial cell apoptosis into new therapeutic strategies for the treatment of certain neurological disorders.