Brain perivascular macrophages: Recent advances and implications in health and diseases

CNS Neurosci Ther. 2019 Dec;25(12):1318-1328. doi: 10.1111/cns.13263. Epub 2019 Nov 20.


Brain perivascular macrophages (PVMs) belong to a distinct population of brain-resident myeloid cells located within the perivascular space surrounding arterioles and venules. Their characterization depends on the combination of anatomical localization, phagocytic capacity, and molecular markers. Under physiological status, they provide structural and functional support for maintaining brain homeostasis, including facilitation of blood-brain barrier integrity and lymphatic drainage, and exertion of immune functions such as phagocytosis and antigen presentation. Increasing evidence also implicates their specific roles in diseased brain, ranging from cerebrovascular diseases, Aβ pathologies, infections, and autoimmunity. Collectively, PVMs are key components of the brain-resident immune system, actively participate in a broad-spectrum of processes in normal and diseased status. Details of the processes are largely underexplored. Targeting PVMs would lead to new insights and be a promising strategy for a broad array of human diseases.

Keywords: BBB; multiple sclerosis; neuroinflammation; stroke; vascular dementia; white matter.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Central Nervous System / pathology*
  • Central Nervous System / physiology*
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / pathology*
  • Macrophages / physiology*