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Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2013 Jan 1;3(1):a006551. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a006551.

Molecular parallels between neural and vascular development.

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Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Biology, CNRS/UMR 7241-INSERM U1050, Collège de France, 75005 Paris, France.


The human central nervous system (CNS) features a network of ~400 miles of blood vessels that receives >20% of the body's cardiac output and uses most of its blood glucose. Many human diseases, including stroke, retinopathy, and cancer, are associated with the biology of CNS blood vessels. These vessels originate from extrinsic cell populations, including endothelial cells and pericytes that colonize the CNS and interact with glia and neurons to establish the blood-brain barrier and control cerebrovascular exchanges. Neurovascular interactions also play important roles in adult neurogenic niches, which harbor a unique population of neural stem cells that are intimately associated with blood vessels. We here review the cellular and molecular mechanisms required to establish the CNS vascular network, with a special focus on neurovascular interactions and the functions of vascular endothelial growth factors.

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