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Aged blood inhibits hippocampal neurogenesis and activates microglia through VCAM1 at the blood-brain barrier

By Hanadie Yousef, Cathrin J Czupalla, Davis Lee, Ashley Burke, Michelle Chen, Judith Zandstra, Elisabeth Berber, Benoit Lehallier, Vidhu Mathur, Ramesh V Nair, Liana Bonanno, Taylor Merkel, Markus Schwaninger, Stephen Quake, Eugene C Butcher, Tony Wyss-Coray

Posted 03 Jan 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/242198

An aged circulatory environment can promote brain dysfunction and we hypothesized that the blood-brain barrier (BBB) mediates at least some of these effects. We observe brain endothelial cells (BECs) in the aged mouse hippocampus express an inflammatory transcriptional profile with focal upregulation of Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule 1 (VCAM1), a protein that facilitates vascular-immune cell interactions. Concomitantly, the shed, soluble form of VCAM1 is prominently increased in the aged circulation of humans and mice, and aged plasma is sufficient to increase VCAM1 expression in cultured BECs and young mouse hippocampi. Systemic anti-VCAM1 antibody or genetic ablation of VCAM1 in BECs counteracts the detrimental effects of aged plasma on young brains and reverses aging aspects in old mouse brains. Thus, VCAM1 is a negative regulator of adult neurogenesis and inducer of microglial reactivity, establishing VCAM1 and the luminal side of the BBB as possible targets to treat age-related neurodegeneration.

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