Neurovascular biology is a young, emerging field that aims to unravel the molecular communication between the nervous system and the vasculature. Both the nervous system and the vascular system share striking conceptual similarities in the assembly of cellular networks through guided growth and branching processes. Vascular and neural cells work together to form a number of functional tissue compartments. Endothelial cells, certain mural support cells (i.e., pericytes), astrocytes and neurons assemble the neurovascular unit, which establishes the blood-brain and blood-retina barriers. In fact, many of the most debilitating neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive decline involve disruption of the neurovascular unit or compromised vascular function in the nervous system. It has become increasingly clear that the endothelium and mural support cells function go beyond nutrient supply and are instructive and structurally required to allow nervous system function.
In this symposium, we bring together researchers from vascular biology and neurobiology to foster interdisciplinary exchange and new emerging concepts on how vascular and nervous systems crosstalk to maintain organ homeostasis and function.