Blood-brain barrier dysfunction and the pathogenesis of alzheimer’s disease

Yu Yamazaki, Takahisa Kanekiyo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Brain capillary endothelial cells form the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which is covered with basement membranes and is also surrounded by pericytes and astrocyte end-feet in the neurovascular unit. The BBB tightly regulates the molecular exchange between the blood flow and brain parenchyma, thereby regulating the homeostasis of the central nervous system (CNS). Thus, dysfunction of the BBB is likely involved in the pathogenesis of several neurological diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD). While amyloid-β (Aβ) deposition and neurofibrillary tangle formation in the brain are central pathological hallmarks in AD, cerebrovascular lesions and BBB alteration have also been shown to frequently coexist. Although further clinical studies should clarify whether BBB disruption is a specific feature of AD pathogenesis, increasing evidence indicates that each component of the neurovascular unit is significantly affected in the presence of AD-related pathologies in animal models and human patients. Conversely, since some portions of Aβ are eliminated along the neurovascular unit and across the BBB, disturbing the pathways may result in exacerbated Aβ accumulation in the brain. Thus, current evidence suggests that BBB dysfunction may causatively and consequently contribute to AD pathogenesis, forming a vicious cycle between brain Aβ accumulation and neurovascular unit impairments during disease progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1965
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 13 2017


  • Amyloid-β
  • Astrocytes
  • Basement membrane
  • Cerebral amyloid angiopathy
  • Endothelial cells
  • Neurovascular unit
  • Pericytes
  • Tight junctions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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