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“Endothelial cells of blood vessels of the central nervous system (CNS) constitute blood-CNS barriers. Barrier properties are not intrinsic to these cells; rather they are induced and maintained by CNS microenvironment. Notably, the abluminal surfaces of CNS capillaries are ensheathed by pericytes and astrocytes. However, extrinsic factors from these perivascular cells that regulate barrier integrity are largely unknown. Here, we establish vitronectin, an extracellular matrix protein secreted by CNS pericytes, as a regulator of blood-CNS barrier function via interactions with its integrin receptor, α5, in endothelial cells. Genetic ablation of vitronectin or mutating vitronectin to prevent integrin binding, as well as endothelial-specific deletion of integrin α5, causes barrier leakage in mice. Furthermore, vitronectin-integrin α5 signaling maintains barrier integrity by actively inhibiting transcytosis in endothelial cells. These results demonstrate that signaling from perivascular cells to endothelial cells via ligand-receptor interactions is a key mechanism to regulate barrier permeability.”

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