Dr. Ayal Ben-Zvi’s laboratory, conducts neuro-Vascular research focused on the molecular and cellular aberrations of the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) in central nervous system (CNS) pathologies. We also study the differentiation processes of BBB endothelial cells during embryonic development. The function of a blood vessel in the brain is very different than that of peripheral blood vessels. To maintain the brain environment, capillaries have to first isolate the brain from the blood, and then, very tightly control, the influx/efflux of materials through the capillary wall. Indeed, the homeostasis is maintained by the ‘blood brain barrier’ (BBB), which is composed of blood vessels whose endothelial cells are highly specialized.
BBB deregulation has recently been shown to be associated with neurological disorders (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Stroke). Our team studies CNS pathologies in which the nature of BBB dysfunction is poorly understood; cognitive impairment and neuronal degeneration related to Diabetes and to Neuro-Psychiatric Lupus, in both projects, we have very exciting and novel findings.
Understanding BBB deregulation in CNS disease state, is a prerequisite for our ability to efficiently restore proper BBB function to ameliorate CNS disease.