Document Type


Publication Title

Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences: CMLS


Dynamic brain activity requires timely communications between the brain parenchyma and circulating blood. Brain-blood communication is facilitated by intricate networks of brain vasculature, which display striking heterogeneity in structure and function. This vascular cell heterogeneity in the brain is fundamental to mediating diverse brain functions and has long been recognized. However, the molecular basis of this biological phenomenon has only recently begun to be elucidated. Over the past century, various animal species and in vitro systems have contributed to the accumulation of our fundamental and phylogenetic knowledge about brain vasculature, collectively advancing this research field. Historically, dye tracer and microscopic observations have provided valuable insights into the anatomical and functional properties of vasculature across the brain, and these techniques remain an important approach. Additionally, recent advances in molecular genetics and omics technologies have revealed significant molecular heterogeneity within brain endothelial and perivascular cell types. The combination of these conventional and modern approaches has enabled us to identify phenotypic differences between healthy and abnormal conditions at the single-cell level. Accordingly, our understanding of brain vascular cell states during physiological, pathological, and aging processes has rapidly expanded. In this review, we summarize major historical advances and current knowledge on blood endothelial cell heterogeneity in the brain, and discuss important unsolved questions in the field.



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Angiogenesis, Blood–brain barrier, Brain vascularization, Cell diversity, Fenestrations, Neurological diseases, Vascular therapy