Pericyte degeneration causes white matter dysfunction in the mouse central nervous system

Axel Montagne, Angeliki M Nikolakopoulou, Zhen Zhao, Abhay P Sagare, Gabriel Si, Divna Lazic, Samuel R Barnes, Madelaine Daianu, Anita Ramanathan, Ariel Go, Erica J Lawson, Yaoming Wang, William J Mack, Paul M Thompson, Julie A Schneider, Jobin Varkey, Ralf Langen, Eric Mullins, Russell E Jacobs, Berislav V Zlokovic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Diffuse white-matter disease associated with small-vessel disease and dementia is prevalent in the elderly. The biological mechanisms, however, remain elusive. Using pericyte-deficient mice, magnetic resonance imaging, viral-based tract-tracing, and behavior and tissue analysis, we found that pericyte degeneration disrupted white-matter microcirculation, resulting in an accumulation of toxic blood-derived fibrin(ogen) deposits and blood-flow reductions, which triggered a loss of myelin, axons and oligodendrocytes. This disrupted brain circuits, leading to white-matter functional deficits before neuronal loss occurs. Fibrinogen and fibrin fibrils initiated autophagy-dependent cell death in oligodendrocyte and pericyte cultures, whereas pharmacological and genetic manipulations of systemic fibrinogen levels in pericyte-deficient, but not control mice, influenced the degree of white-matter fibrin(ogen) deposition, pericyte degeneration, vascular pathology and white-matter changes. Thus, our data indicate that pericytes control white-matter structure and function, which has implications for the pathogenesis and treatment of human white-matter disease associated with small-vessel disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-337
Number of pages12
JournalNature Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018


  • Animals
  • Axons/pathology
  • Blood Vessels/diagnostic imaging
  • Blood-Brain Barrier/pathology
  • Brain/diagnostic imaging
  • Central Nervous System/blood supply
  • Dementia/blood
  • Humans
  • Leukoencephalopathies/blood
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Mice
  • Microcirculation
  • Myelin Sheath/metabolism
  • Pericytes/metabolism
  • White Matter/blood supply


Dive into the research topics of 'Pericyte degeneration causes white matter dysfunction in the mouse central nervous system'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this