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Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2011 May;300(5):H1566-82. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.01310.2010. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

Protecting against vascular disease in brain.

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  • 1Dept. of Internal Medicine, Carver College of Medicine, Univ. of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1081, USA.


Endothelial cells exert an enormous influence on blood vessels throughout the circulation, but their impact is particularly pronounced in the brain. New concepts have emerged recently regarding the role of this cell type and mechanisms that contribute to endothelial dysfunction and vascular disease. Activation of the renin-angiotensin system plays a prominent role in producing these abnormalities. Both oxidative stress and local inflammation are key mechanisms that underlie vascular disease of diverse etiology. Endogenous mechanisms of vascular protection are also present, including antioxidants, anti-inflammatory molecules, and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ. Despite their clear importance, studies of mechanisms that underlie cerebrovascular disease continue to lag behind studies of vascular biology in general. Identification of endogenous molecules and pathways that protect the vasculature may result in targeted approaches to prevent or slow the progression of vascular disease that causes stroke and contributes to the vascular component of dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

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