The brain is locked away from the biochemistry of the rest of the body behind the blood-brain barrier, the sheath of specialized cells surrounding blood vessels in the brain that prevents most unwanted molecular traffic to and from neural tissues. The brain is biochemically quite different from the rest of the body, and many of the commonplace molecules found elsewhere can be harmful to brain tissue or degrade neural function. Pericytes are one of the supporting cell types involved in the structure of the blood-brain barrier, and in the research noted here, pericyte dysfunction is linked to other known aspects of biochemical disarray in the vascular system that take place with aging. These include: the leakage of fibrinogen into the brain and its damaging effects on nerves; the progressive failure of blood-brain barrier integrity, allowing other forms of leakage; the buildup of protein aggregates that harm neurons; and the general vascular dysfunction that impacts the delivery of nutrients to the energy-hungry brain.
What can be done about this? The research here identifies the functional failure of pericytes as the earliest cause in the stack of consequences that the authors examined, but they look
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