The neurovascular unit and systemic biology in stroke – implications for translation and treatment

Tiedt S, Buchan AM, Dichgans M, Lizasoain I, Moro MA, Lo EH. Nat Rev Neurol. 2022 Sep 9. doi: 10.1038/s41582-022-00703-z. Online ahead of print. PMID: 36085420 

Abstract | Ischaemic stroke is a leading cause of disability and death for which no acute treatments exist beyond recanalization. The development of novel therapies has been repeatedly hindered by translational failures that have changed the way we think about tissue damage after stroke. What was initially a neuron-centric view has been replaced with the concept of the neurovascular unit (NVU), which encompasses neuronal, glial and vascular compartments, and the biphasic nature of neural–glial–vascular signalling. However, it is now clear that the brain is not the private niche it was traditionally thought to be and that the NVU interacts bidirectionally with systemic biology, such as systemic metabolism, the peripheral immune system and the gut microbiota. Furthermore, these interactions are profoundly modified by internal and external factors, such as ageing, temperature and day–night cycles. In this Review, we propose an extension of the concept of the NVU to include its dynamic interactions with systemic biology. We anticipate that this integrated view will lead to the identification of novel mechanisms of stroke pathophysiology, potentially explain previous translational failures, and improve stroke care by identifying new biomarkers of and treatment targets in stroke.