How solutes and macromolecules are removed from brain tissue is of central importance in normal brain physiology and in how toxic protein aggregates are cleared in neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer's disease (AD). Conventionally, solute transport in the narrow and tortuous extracellular space in brain parenchyma has been thought to be primarily diffusive and nondirectional. The recently proposed "glymphatic" (glial-lymphatic) hypothesis posits that solute clearance is convective and driven by active fluid transport from para-arterial to paravenous spaces though aquaporin-4 water channels in astrocyte endfeet. Glymphatic, convective solute clearance has received much attention because of its broad implications for AD and other brain pathologies and even the function of sleep. However, the theoretical plausibility of glymphatic transport has been questioned, and recent data have challenged its experimental underpinnings. A substantiated mechanism of solute clearance in the brain is of considerable importance because of its implications for pathogenic mechanisms of neurologic diseases and delivery of therapeutics.-Smith, A. J., Verkman, A. S. The "glymphatic" mechanism for solute clearance in Alzheimer's disease: game changer or unproven speculation?
Keywords: aquaporin-4; brain edema; sleep; water transport; β-amyloid.