Pericytes contribute to the disruption of the cerebral endothelial barrier via increasing VEGF expression: Implications for stroke

Ying Bai, Xinjian Zhu, Jie Chao, Yuan Zhang, Cheng Qian, Peicheng Li, Dongfang Liu, Bing Han, Lei Zhao, Jianqiong Zhang, Shilpa Buch, Gaojun Teng, Gang Hu, Honghong Yao

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65 Scopus citations


Disruption of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) integrity occurring during the early onset of stroke is not only a consequence of, but also contributes to the further progression of stroke. Although it has been well documented that brain microvascular endothelial cells and astrocytes play a critical role in the maintenance of BBB integrity, pericytes, sandwiched between endothelial cells and astrocytes, remain poorly studied in the pathogenesis of stroke. Our findings demonstrated that treatment of human brain microvascular pericytes with sodium cyanide (NaCN) and glucose deprivation resulted in increased expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) via the activation of tyrosine kinase Src, with downstream activation of mitogen activated protein kinase and PI3K/Akt pathways and subsequent translocation of NF-κB into the nucleus. Conditioned medium from NaCN-treated pericytes led to increased permeability of endothelial cells, and this effect was significantly inhibited by VEGF-neutralizing antibody. The in vivo relevance of these findings was further corroborated in the stroke model of mice wherein the mice, demonstrated disruption of the BBB integrity and concomitant increase in the expression of VEGF in the brain tissue as well as in the isolated microvessel. These findings thus suggest the role of pericyte-derived VEGF in modulating increased permeability of BBB during stroke. Understanding the regulation of VEGF expression could open new avenues for the development of potential therapeutic targets for stroke and other neurological disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0124362
JournalPloS one
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 17 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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