Rhythms in barriers and fluids: Circadian clock regulation in the aging neurovascular unit

Lea Skapetze, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Sharon Owino, Smith College
Eng H. Lo, Harvard Medical School
Ken Arai, Harvard Medical School
Martha Merrow, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Mary Harrington, Smith College

Archived as published.


The neurovascular unit is where two very distinct physiological systems meet: The central nervous system (CNS) and the blood. The permeability of the barriers separating these systems is regulated by time, including both the 24 h circadian clock and the longer processes of aging. An endogenous circadian rhythm regulates the transport of molecules across the blood-brain barrier and the circulation of the cerebrospinal fluid and the glymphatic system. These fluid dynamics change with time of day, and with age, and especially in the context of neurodegeneration. Factors may differ depending on brain region, as can be highlighted by consideration of circadian regulation of the neurovascular niche in white matter. As an example of a potential target for clinical applications, we highlight chaperone-mediated autophagy as one mechanism at the intersection of circadian dysregulation, aging and neurodegenerative disease. In this review we emphasize key areas for future research.