Glia and vasculature play critical roles in maintaining the integrity of the central nervous system. Glia, such as astrocytes and microglia, respond to the brain microenvironment to modulate their gene expression programs and activation states, the dysfunction of which contributes to progression of neurodegenerative diseases. Similarly, the vasculature also plays a crucial role in CNS function by regulating blood flow and nutrient delivery to the brain.
Abnormalities in the blood-brain barrier can lead to peripheral infiltration of immune cells, exacerbating neurodegeneration. Additionally, age-related changes in the vasculature, such as reduced blood flow, can lead to functional decline. Therefore, understanding the role of glia and the vasculature in health and disease will facilitate the discovery of novel therapeutic strategies for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. Owing to the development of new model systems, such as iPSCs and organoids, and powerful technologies, in particular single cell and spatial transcriptomics, the field has witnessed exciting progress in the past several years.
This review series covers the latest development of these important topics by well-known experts in the field and is an outgrowth from the International Society for Molecular Neurodegeneration Conference: Glial and Vascular Contributions to Neurodegenerative Diseases (October 10-12, 2022, Athens, Greece).