Blood vessels are critical to deliver oxygen and nutrients to all of the tissues and organs throughout the body. The blood vessels that vascularize the central nervous system (CNS) possess unique properties, termed the blood–brain barrier, which allow these vessels to tightly regulate the movement of ions, molecules, and cells between the blood and the brain. This precise control of CNS homeostasis allows for proper neuronal function and also protects the neural tissue from toxins and pathogens, and alterations of these barrier properties are an important component of pathology and progression of different neurological diseases. The physiological barrier is coordinated by a series of physical, transport, and metabolic properties possessed by the endothelial cells (ECs) that form the walls of the blood vessels, and these properties are regulated by interactions with different vascular, immune, and neural cells. Understanding how these different cell populations interact to regulate the barrier properties is essential for understanding how the brain functions during health and disease.
The endothelial cells that line the blood vessels of the central nervous system (CNS) possess unique properties to control CNS homeostasis. These cells are regulated by different vascular, immune, and neural cells.