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Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 2018 Jan 30;5:87. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2017.00087. eCollection 2017.

Modeling Neurovascular Disorders and Therapeutic Outcomes with Human-Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells.

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Department of Biomedical Engineering, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, United States.
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, United States.
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, United States.


The neurovascular unit (NVU) is composed of neurons, astrocytes, pericytes, and endothelial cells that form the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The NVU regulates material exchange between the bloodstream and the brain parenchyma, and its dysfunction is a primary or secondary cause of many cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative disorders. As such, there are substantial research thrusts in academia and industry toward building NVU models that mimic endogenous organization and function, which could be used to better understand disease mechanisms and assess drug efficacy. Human pluripotent stem cells, which can self-renew indefinitely and differentiate to almost any cell type in the body, are attractive for these models because they can provide a limitless source of individual cells from the NVU. In addition, human-induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) offer the opportunity to build NVU models with an explicit genetic background and in the context of disease susceptibility. Herein, we review how iPSCs are being used to model neurovascular and neurodegenerative diseases, with particular focus on contributions of the BBB, and discuss existing technologies and emerging opportunities to merge these iPSC progenies with biomaterials platforms to create complex NVU systems that recreate the in vivo microenvironment.


blood–brain barrier; disease modeling; induced pluripotent stem cell; neurovascular unit; tissue engineering

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