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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008 Mar;9(3):169-81. doi: 10.1038/nrn2336.

Neurovascular signalling defects in neurodegeneration.

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  • 1The Center for Transgene Technology and Gene Therapy, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, B-3000, Belgium.


It is anticipated that by 2040 neurodegeneration will affect 40 million people worldwide, more than twice as many as today. The traditional neurocentric view holds that neurodegeneration is caused primarily by intrinsic neuronal defects. However, recent evidence indicates that the millions of blood vessels that criss-cross the nervous system might not be the silent bystanders they were originally considered. Indeed, recent genetic studies reveal that insufficient production of angiogenic signals, which stimulate the growth of blood vessels, can cause neurodegeneration. Remarkably, some angiogenic factors can also regulate neuroregeneration, and have direct neuroprotective and other effects on various neural cell types. Here we provide an overview of the molecules that affect both neural and vascular cell processes--to underline their duality, we term them angioneurins. Unravelling the molecular mechanisms by which these angioneurins act might create opportunities for developing new neurovascular medicine.

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