1 Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA-02215, USA
2 Angiogenesis and Brain Development Laboratory, Division of Basic Neuroscience, McLean Hospital, 115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA-02478, USA
The mammalian brain receives the lion’s share of the body’s blood supply and is a highly vascularized organ. The vascular and nervous systems arise at two distinct time points of embryogenesis; however, their functions tend to overlap or complement each other in the growth promoting milieu of the embryonic Central Nervous System (CNS). The pre-existing idea that mental disorders are a direct result from defects solely in neuronal populations and networks is gradually changing. Several studies have implicated blood vessel pathologies and blood flow changes in mental health disorders. Our own studies provide new perspectives as to how intrinsic defects in periventricular endothelial cells, from the earliest developmental time points can lead to the origin of mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorders (ASD), anxiety, and depression, thereby establishing direct links. In this article, we provide an overview of how the endothelial cell compartment in the brain is now gaining attention in the context of mental health disorders.
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