Cognitive impairment, an underappreciated consequence of hypertension, is linked to cerebral arteriolar disease through poorly defined mechanisms. A study by Faraco et al. in this issue of the JCI points to perturbations of neurovascular unit coupling caused by perivascular macrophages (PVMs) as a cause of hypertension-related cognitive impairment. Angiotensin II (Ang II) was shown to activate PVMs, causing them to produce superoxide and thereby alter the proper functioning of the adjacent arterioles. Faraco and colleagues also show that disruption of the blood-brain barrier occurs in hypertension, allowing circulating Ang II to access PVMs. This study provides important new insight into the role of inflammatory cells in the genesis of vascular dementia.


D.G. Harrison, Tomasz J. Guzik


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