A functional cerebral endothelium is necessary to protect against cognitive decline

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2022 Jan;42(1):74-89. doi: 10.1177/0271678X211045438. Epub 2021 Sep 13.


A vascular insult occurring early in disease onset may initiate cognitive decline leading to dementia, while pharmacological and lifestyle interventions can prevent this progression. Mice with a selective, tamoxifen-inducible deletion of NF-κB essential modulator (Nemo) in brain endothelial cells were studied as a model of vascular cognitive impairment. Groups included NemoFl controls and three NemobeKO groups: One untreated, and two treated with simvastatin or exercise. Social preference and nesting were impaired in NemobeKO mice and were not countered by treatments. Cerebrovascular function was compromised in NemobeKO groups regardless of treatment, with decreased changes in sensory-evoked cerebral blood flow and total hemoglobin levels, and impaired endothelium-dependent vasodilation. NemobeKO mice had increased string vessel pathology, blood-brain barrier disruption, neuroinflammation, and reduced cortical somatostatin-containing interneurons. These alterations were reversed when endothelial function was recovered. Findings strongly suggest that damage to the cerebral endothelium can trigger pathologies associated with dementia and its functional integrity should be an effective target in future therapeutic efforts.

Keywords: Cerebral endothelium; NF-κB essential modulator; physical exercise; simvastatin; vascular cognitive impairment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Flow Velocity
  • Brain* / blood supply
  • Brain* / metabolism
  • Brain* / physiopathology
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / genetics
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / metabolism
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / physiopathology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction* / prevention & control
  • Endothelium, Vascular* / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular* / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Interneurons / metabolism*
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / deficiency
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Somatostatin / metabolism
  • Vasodilation*


  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • NEMO protein, mouse
  • Somatostatin