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The myriads of vessels of the central nervous system (CNS) hold many complex and mysterious secrets in its depths. Built up by angiogenesis, a process consisting of endothelial precursor cell proliferation and migration, recruitment of pericytes and smooth muscle cells and sprouting of new blood vessels, CNS vasculature is exquisitely fashioned with an identity of its own. Beginning early during CNS development, angiogenesis continues faithfully throughout life, responding to tissue growth, activity or injury. Many common mechanisms regulate the genesis of endothelial cells and neurons in the CNS. Vascular networks thus talk in plenty with neuronal networks and vice versa. Co-dependent and co-ordinate, molecules produced in one system influence the other, promoting proliferation, differentiation or process outgrowth in both systems.
This special focus series is devoted to expanding the understanding of CNS angiogenesis in both normal health and disease conditions. A spectrum of topics is brought together on a common platform as experts in the field of angiogenesis discuss the development of the vascular system and disorders to which this has potential significance. Offering fresh perspectives, their studies and views are bound to be richly rewarding to the scientific community.
Travelling through historical lanes of neurovascular development, Drs. Bautch and James highlight signals and mechanisms that are used by vascular and neural cells to grow and communicate, providing insights into the relationship between the CNS and its vasculature in development and in disease. Next, Dr. Kurz elaborates neuro-vascular patterning emphasizing commonalities between spinal cord and forebrain angiogenesis accentuating instructive signals that modulate these events. Dr. McCarty's contribution is vital for understanding cell adhesion and signaling events in CNS development and homeostasis with important implications for physiological and pathological angiogenesis.
A distinctive feature of CNS vasculature is the blood-brain barrier produced by tight junctions between endothelial cells and it is disrupted in diseases like stroke or brain tumors. Dr. Navaratna and colleagues' sketch angiogenesis in the light of a CNS insult by stroke and review new molecular and cell-based therapeutic approaches. Drs. Benny and Pakneshan strive at rendering brain tumors vulnerable to anti-angiogenic therapy by using drug delivery systems, polymeric systems and local delivery of anti-angiogenic proteins and drugs. Drs. Wurdinger and Tannous discuss conventional and RNA-based angiogenesis inhibitors and underscore the effectiveness of anti-angiogenic therapy with angiomirs for treatment of brain cancer.
Undoubtedly, this focus series holds the promise of accelerating discoveries in fundamental aspects of CNS angiogenesis and paves the way for a future with new and exciting therapeutic opportunities.
Dr. Anju Vasudevan is an Instructor in Neurology at Harvard Medical School and Assistant in Neuroscience at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Dr. Vasudevan received a PhD in Neurobiology from the University of Cologne, Germany in 2004 after which she joined Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital for post- doctoral studies. She was promoted as junior faculty in Neurology in 2007. Dr. Vasudevan's work focuses on angiogenesis, neurogenesis and neuronal migration during brain development.
Previously published online as a Cell Adhesion & Migration E-publication: www.landesbioscience.com/journals/celladhesion/article/8513