Research Topic

Brain-vascular interactions and calcium signaling

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The brain contains an amazingly dense network of blood vessels estimated to be several hundreds of kilometers long in total. Vascular smooth muscle cells, endothelial cells and pericytes that constitute the vessel wall, tightly interact among each other as well as with parenchymal neurons and glial cells to ...

The brain contains an amazingly dense network of blood vessels estimated to be several hundreds of kilometers long in total. Vascular smooth muscle cells, endothelial cells and pericytes that constitute the vessel wall, tightly interact among each other as well as with parenchymal neurons and glial cells to fine-tune brain functioning and adapt the exchange of metabolites and signaling molecules at the interface between blood and brain. This blood-brain interface is furthermore the site where immune cells interact to control inflammation, where monocytes/macrophages and microglia clear-up cell debris resulting from disease, and where circulating cancer cells may enter to form brain metastases. Changes in calcium ion concentration play a predominant and key signaling role in almost all cells of the central nervous system, including neurons, glial cells, vascular cells, epithelial cells and blood borne cells. Many of these cellular players have been well characterized in terms of calcium signaling but astonishingly little is known about the consequences and functional role of such signaling at the very sites where these cells interact. This Research Topic seeks to bring together contributions that improve our understanding of how calcium signaling impacts on cellular interactions at the brain-vascular interface, how it alters the function of this interface and how the interface, on its turn, influences calcium signaling of its constituent cells. The best known interface is the blood-brain barrier where endothelial cells, pericytes and astrocytes meet at the level of capillary blood vessels. However, many other interfaces exist, including the blood-spinal cord barrier, the blood-retina barrier, the brain-arachnoid barrier and the brain-tumor barrier. Not all interfaces form as strong a barrier, for example at the level of circumventricular capillaries where tanycytes play a key role in what molecules make their way into the brain. Additionally, not all interfaces consist of vascular endothelial cells, for example the brain-CSF barrier formed by epithelial cells of the choroid plexus and ependymal cells of the ventricles. Astrocytes are predominant at interfacial areas but also microglia, oligodendrocytes, Müller cells, Bergmann glia, and neurons are stakeholders that influence transport and signaling at the interface. We welcome all contributions, research papers or reviews, that may contribute to our understanding of calcium signaling at interfacial areas of the central nervous system. Importantly, these areas set the boundary conditions for brain function.


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