Mahesh Kandasamy 1 , 2 , Muthuswamy Anusuyadevi 3 , Kiera M Aigner 4 , 5 , Michael S Unger 4 , 5 , Kathrin M Kniewallner 4 , 5 , Diana M Bessa de Sousa 4 , 5 , Barbara Altendorfer 4 , 5 , Heike Mrowetz 4 , 5 , Ulrich Bogdahn 4 , 5 , 6 , Ludwig Aigner 4 , 5 , 7 , *
23 July 2020
Vascular dementia (VaD) is the second leading form of memory loss after Alzheimer's disease (AD). Currently, there is no cure available. The etiology, pathophysiology and clinical manifestations of VaD are extremely heterogeneous, but the impaired cerebral blood flow (CBF) represents a common denominator of VaD. The latter might be the result of atherosclerosis, amyloid angiopathy, microbleeding and micro-strokes, together causing blood-brain barrier (BBB) dysfunction and vessel leakage, collectively originating from the consequence of hypertension, one of the main risk factors for VaD. At the histopathological level, VaD displays abnormal vascular remodeling, endothelial cell death, string vessel formation, pericyte responses, fibrosis, astrogliosis, sclerosis, microglia activation, neuroinflammation, demyelination, white matter lesions, deprivation of synapses and neuronal loss. The transforming growth factor (TGF) β has been identified as one of the key molecular factors involved in the aforementioned various pathological aspects. Thus, targeting TGF-β signaling in the brain might be a promising therapeutic strategy to mitigate vascular pathology and improve cognitive functions in patients with VaD. This review revisits the recent understanding of the role of TGF-β in VaD and associated pathological hallmarks. It further explores the potential to modulate certain aspects of VaD pathology by targeting TGF-β signaling.