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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

The CNS microvascular pericyte: pericyte-astrocyte crosstalk in the regulation of tissue survival

Drew Bonkowski12, Vladimir Katyshev13, Roumen D Balabanov4, Andre Borisov5 and Paula Dore-Duffy1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neurology, Wayne State University School of Medicine, 421 East Canfield Road, Detroit, Michigan 48201, USA

2 Department of Neuroscience, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA

3 Department of Neurology Wayne State University School of Medicine, Detroit, Michigan 48201, USA

4 Department of Neurology, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois, 60612, USA

5 Department of Biology, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan 48201, USA

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Fluids and Barriers of the CNS 2011, 8:8  doi:10.1186/2045-8118-8-8

Published: 18 January 2011

Abstract

The French scientist Charles Benjamin Rouget identified the pericyte nearly 140 years ago. Since that time the role of the pericyte in vascular function has been difficult to elucidate. It was not until the development of techniques to isolate and culture pericytes that scientists have begun to understand the true impact of this unique cell in the maintenance of tissue homeostasis. In the brain the pericyte is an integral cellular component of the blood-brain barrier and, together with other cells of the neurovascular unit (endothelial cells, astrocytes and neurons) the pericyte makes fine-tuned regulatory adjustments and adaptations to promote tissue survival. These regulatory changes involve trans-cellular communication networks between cells. In this review we consider evidence for cell-to-cell crosstalk between pericytes and astrocytes during development and in adult brain.