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International Journal of Cell Biology
Volume 2012, Article ID 176287, 16 pages
Review Article

Endothelial Cells and Astrocytes: A Concerto en Duo in Ischemic Pathophysiology

1Université Lille Nord de France, 59000 Lille, France
2UArtois, LBHE, EA 2465, 62300 Lens, France
3IMPRT-IFR114, 59000 Lille, France
4Departments of Physiology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, CA 92354, USA
5Departments of Pediatrics, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, CA 92354, USA

Received 2 March 2012; Accepted 30 April 2012

Academic Editor: Carola Förster

Copyright © 2012 Vincent Berezowski et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The neurovascular/gliovascular unit has recently gained increased attention in cerebral ischemic research, especially regarding the cellular and molecular changes that occur in astrocytes and endothelial cells. In this paper we summarize the recent knowledge of these changes in association with edema formation, interactions with the basal lamina, and blood-brain barrier dysfunctions. We also review the involvement of astrocytes and endothelial cells with recombinant tissue plasminogen activator, which is the only FDA-approved thrombolytic drug after stroke. However, it has a narrow therapeutic time window and serious clinical side effects. Lastly, we provide alternative therapeutic targets for future ischemia drug developments such as peroxisome proliferator- activated receptors and inhibitors of the c-Jun N-terminal kinase pathway. Targeting the neurovascular unit to protect the blood-brain barrier instead of a classical neuron-centric approach in the development of neuroprotective drugs may result in improved clinical outcomes after stroke.