Pericytes are uniquely positioned within the neurovascular unit to serve as vital integrators, coordinators and effectors of many neurovascular functions, including angiogenesis, blood-brain barrier (BBB) formation and maintenance, vascular stability and angioarchitecture, regulation of capillary blood flow and clearance of toxic cellular byproducts necessary for proper CNS homeostasis and neuronal function. New studies have revealed that pericyte deficiency in the CNS leads to BBB breakdown and brain hypoperfusion resulting in secondary neurodegenerative changes. Here we review recent progress in understanding the biology of CNS pericytes and their role in health and disease.
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The authors thank the US National Institutes of Health (grants R37 AG023084, R37 NS34467 and HL63290) and the Zilkha family for the research support.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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Winkler, E., Bell, R. & Zlokovic, B. Central nervous system pericytes in health and disease. Nat Neurosci 14, 1398–1405 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.2946
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