Blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a monolayer of endothelial cells that line brain capillaries. The BBB protects brain by blocking the entry of harmful substances from blood and shielding the brain from peripheral fluctuations in hormones, fatty acids, and electrolytes. In addition, the BBB effectively clears brain metabolites and serves as a major conduit for the delivery of crucial nutrients and growth factors needed for proper brain function. Owing to these critical responsibilities, any functional and structural impairment of the BBB may result in severe pathophysiological consequences in the brain. BBB dysfunction is implicated in several neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's disease (Carmeliet and De Strooper, 2012), Parkinson's disease (Kortekaas et al., 2005), and cerebrovascular diseases (Yang and Rosenberg, 2011) such as cerebral amyloid angiopathy, stroke, and vascular dementia. Hence, the research community has been actively investigating the cerebrovascular contributions to neurological diseases with major emphasis on the BBB. The success of these efforts is heavily dependent upon the availability of reliable in vitro as well as in vivo BBB models.
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