Neurovascular Alterations in Alzheimer’s Disease: Transporter Expression Profiles and CNS Drug Access

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Despite a century of steady and incremental progress toward understanding the underlying biochemical mechanisms, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) remains a complicated and enigmatic disease, and greater insight will be necessary before substantive clinical success is realised. Over the last decade in particular, a large body of work has highlighted the cerebral microvasculature as an anatomical region with an increasingly apparent role in the pathogenesis of AD. The causative interplay and temporal cascade that manifest between the brain vasculature and the wider disease progression of AD are not yet fully understood, and further inquiry is required to properly characterise these relationships. The purpose of this review is to highlight the recent advancements in research implicating neurovascular factors in AD, at both the molecular and anatomical levels. We begin with a brief introduction of the biochemical and genetic aspects of AD, before reviewing the essential concepts of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and the neurovascular unit (NVU). In detail, we then examine the evidence demonstrating involvement of BBB dysfunction in AD pathogenesis, highlighting the importance of neurovascular components in AD. Lastly, we include within this review research that focuses on how altered properties of the BBB in AD impact upon CNS exposure of therapeutic agents and the potential clinical impact that this may have on people with this disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)940-956
Number of pages17
JournalThe AAPS Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • blood-brain barrier
  • CNS drug delivery
  • neurovascular unit
  • transporters

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