The neurovascular system forms the interface between the tissue of the central nervous system (CNS) and circulating blood. It plays a critical role in regulating movement of ions, small molecules, and cellular regulators into and out of brain tissue and in sustaining brain health. The neurovascular unit (NVU), the cells that form the structural and functional link between cells of the brain and the vasculature, maintains the blood–brain interface (BBI), controls cerebral blood flow, and surveils for injury. The neurovascular system is dynamic; it undergoes tight regulation of biochemical and cellular interactions to balance and support brain function. Development of an intrinsic circadian clock enables the NVU to anticipate rhythmic changes in brain activity and body physiology that occur over the day-night cycle. The development of circadian neurovascular function involves multiple cell types. We address the functional aspects of the circadian clock in the components of the NVU and their effects in regulating neurovascular physiology, including BBI permeability, cerebral blood flow, and inflammation. Disrupting the circadian clock impairs a number of physiological processes associated with the NVU, many of which are correlated with an increased risk of dysfunction and disease. Consequently, understanding the cell biology and physiology of the NVU is critical to diminishing consequences of impaired neurovascular function, including cerebral bleeding and neurodegeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1196606
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
StatePublished - 2023


  • blood–brain interface
  • circadian rhythm disruption
  • clock
  • neuroendothelial
  • tight junctions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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