Blood-brain barrier pathology in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease: implications for drug therapy

Author(s): Desai BS, Monahan AJ, Carvey PM, Hendey B

Abstract

The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a tightly regulated barrier in the central nervous system. Though the BBB is thought to be intact during neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD), recent evidence argues otherwise. Dysfunction of the BBB may be involved in disease progression, eliciting of peripheral immune response, and, most importantly, altered drug efficacy. In this review, we will give a brief overview of the BBB, its components, and their functions. We will critically evaluate the current literature in AD and PD BBB pathology resulting from insult, neuroinflammation, and neurodegeneration. Specifically, we will discuss alterations in tight junction, transport and endothelial cell surface proteins, and vascular density changes, all of which result in altered permeability. Finally, we will discuss the implications of BBB dysfunction in current and future therapeutics. Developing a better appreciation of BBB dysfunction in AD and PD may not only provide novel strategies in treatment, but will prove an interesting milestone in understanding neurodegenerative disease etiology and progression.

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