New players in the neurovascular unit: Insights from experimental and clinical epilepsy

Giuseppe Bertini, Placido Bramanti, Gabriela Constantin, Michele Pellitteri, Beatrice Mihaela Radu, Mihai Radu, Paolo Francesco Fabene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The conventional notion that neurons are exclusively responsible for brain signaling is increasingly challenged by the idea that brain function in fact depends on a complex interplay between neurons, glial cells, vascular endothelium, and immune-related blood cells. Recent data demonstrates that neuronal activity is profoundly affected by an entire cellular and extracellular 'orchestra', the so-called neurovascular unit (NVU). Among the 'musical instruments' of this orchestra, there may be molecules long-known in biomedicine as important mediators of inflammatory and immune responses in the organism, as well as non-neuronal cells, e.g., leukocytes. We here review recent evidence on the structure and function of the NVU, both in the healthy brain and in pathological conditions, such as the abnormal NVU activation observed in epilepsy. We will argue that a better understanding of NVU function will require the addition of new players to the 'orchestra'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)652-659
Number of pages8
JournalNeurochemistry International
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Epilepsy
  • Glial cells
  • Neurons
  • Neurovascular unit
  • Seizures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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