(June 26, 2015) Studies on mice reveal that a special protein in the brain’s tiniest blood vessels may affect the risk of stroke. Peter Carlsson, professor in genetics at the University of Gothenburg, and his research team are publishing new research findings in the journal Developmental Cell about how the blood-brain barrier develops and what makes the capillaries in the brain different from small blood vessels in other organs.
The brain’s smallest blood vessels differ from those in other organs in that the capillary walls are much more compact. The nerve cells in the brain get the nutrients they need by molecules actively being transported from the blood, instead of passively leaking out from the blood vessels.
This blood-brain barrier is vital, because it enables strict control over the substances with which the brain’s nerve cells come into contact. It has a protective function that if it fails, increases the risk of stroke and other complications.