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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2014 Sep;71(18):3489-506. doi: 10.1007/s00018-014-1625-0. Epub 2014 Apr 24.

Developmental and pathological angiogenesis in the central nervous system.

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Division of Hematology, Stanford University School of Medicine, 269 Campus Drive, CCSR 3100, Stanford, CA, 94305, USA,


Angiogenesis, the formation of new blood vessels from pre-existing vessels, in the central nervous system (CNS) is seen both as a normal physiological response as well as a pathological step in disease progression. Formation of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is an essential step in physiological CNS angiogenesis. The BBB is regulated by a neurovascular unit (NVU) consisting of endothelial and perivascular cells as well as vascular astrocytes. The NVU plays a critical role in preventing entry of neurotoxic substances and regulation of blood flow in the CNS. In recent years, research on numerous acquired and hereditary disorders of the CNS has increasingly emphasized the role of angiogenesis in disease pathophysiology. Here, we discuss molecular mechanisms of CNS angiogenesis during embryogenesis as well as various pathological states including brain tumor formation, ischemic stroke, arteriovenous malformations, and neurodegenerative diseases.

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