The neurovascular unit, matrix proteases, and innate inflammation

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2010 Oct;1207:46-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2010.05760.x.


In the central nervous system, microvessel-neuron interactions appear highly coordinated. The rapid simultaneous responses of the microvasculature, neurons, and glia to focal ischemia in experimental ischemic stroke suggest that these responses could be viewed in a unitary fashion, rather than as individual components. The "neurovascular unit" consists of microvessels (endothelial cells-basal lamina matrix-astrocyte end-feet [and pericytes]), astrocytes, neurons and their axons, and other supporting cells that are likely to modulate the function of the "unit." Each cell component generates an inflammatory response to ischemia. Matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 was first associated with hemorrhagic transformation following focal ischemia in an experimental model. A series of studies of ischemic stroke patients also suggests a relationship between MMP-9 levels and several consequences of ischemic injury, including hemorrhagic transformation. Recent experimental work suggests specific cell sources for MMP-9 generation and for matrix proteases from four distinct families that could impact neurovascular unit integrity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Ischemia / enzymology
  • Brain Ischemia / immunology
  • Central Nervous System / blood supply*
  • Central Nervous System / enzymology*
  • Central Nervous System / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Inflammation / enzymology
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 / metabolism*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Stroke / enzymology
  • Stroke / immunology


  • Matrix Metalloproteinase 9