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Mild chronic cerebral hypoperfusion induces neurovascular dysfunction, triggering peripheral beta-amyloid brain entry and aggregation

Ayman ElAli, Peter Thériault, Paul Préfontaine and Serge Rivest*

Author Affiliations

Neuroscience Laboratory, CHU de Québec Research Center and Department of Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Laval University, 2705 Laurier boul., Québec City, QC G1V 4G2, Canada

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Acta Neuropathologica Communications 2013, 1:75  doi:10.1186/2051-5960-1-75

Published: 13 November 2013



The Blood–brain barrier (BBB) controls brain supply with oxygen and nutrients, and protects the brain from toxic metabolites, such as beta-amyloid (Aβ) peptides. The neurovascular unit (NVU) couples vascular and neuronal functions by controlling BBB parameters based on brain needs. As such, NVU/BBB dysfunction, associated to irregularities in cerebral blood flow (CBF), has been proposed to contribute in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), mainly by impairing cerebral Aβ clearance. However, the spatiotemporal contribution of the NVU/BBB in the neurodegenerative cascades remains elusive.


By using C57BL/6J mice subjected to right common carotid artery (rCCA) permanent ligation in order to induce mild chronic cerebral hypoperfusion, we show here that cerebral hypoperfusion induced NVU dysfunction by reducing ABCB1 protein expression in brain capillaries. ABCB1 reduction was mainly triggered by an enhanced Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 (GSK3β) activation, which decreased β-catenin nuclear abundance. Moreover, cerebral hypoperfusion triggered early vascular deposition of peripherally applied human Aβ1-42 peptides, which has shifted from highly vascular to the parenchyma 6 weeks later, forming small stable Aβ deposits. Hypoperfusion induced a deregulation in glucose metabolism, as brain reperfusion, or the administration of a high dose of glucose, diminished GSK3β activation, recuperated β-catenin nuclear abundance, reestablished ABCB1 protein expression, and prevented Aβ vascular early deposition. These results demonstrate that mild chronic cerebral hypoperfusion creates a metabolically deregulated microenvironment, thus triggering the brain entry and aggregation of peripherally applied human Aβ1-42 peptides.


Our study offers new insights on the initiation of the neurodegenerative cascades observed in AD, which could be valuable in developing adequate treatment strategies.

Alzheimer’s disease; Neurovascular unit; Blood–brain barrier; Mild chronic cerebral hypoperfusion; Beta-amyloid; Signal transduction