The meninges have traditionally been viewed as specialized membranes surrounding and protecting the adult brain from injury. However, there is increasing evidence that the fetal meninges play important roles during brain development. Through the release of diffusible factors, the meninges influence the proliferative and migratory behaviors of neural progenitors and neurons in the forebrain and hindbrain. Meningeal cells also secrete and organize the pial basement membrane (BM), a critical anchor point for the radially oriented fibers of neuroepithelial stem cells. With its emerging role in brain development, the potential that defects in meningeal development may underlie certain congenital brain abnormalities in humans should be considered. In this review, we will discuss what is known about assembly of the fetal meninges and review the role of meningeal-derived proteins in mouse and human brain development.
Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.