Regulation of Endothelial Barrier Function

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The vascular endothelium lining the inner surface of blood vessels serves as the first interface for circulating blood components to interact with cells of the vascular wall and surrounding extravascular tissues. In addition to regulating blood delivery and perfusion, a major function of vascular endothelia, especially those in exchange microvessels (capillaries and postcapillary venules), is to provide a semipermeable barrier that controls blood-tissue exchange of fluids, nutrients, and metabolic wastes while preventing pathogens or harmful materials in the circulation from entering into tissues. During host defense against infection or tissue injury, endothelial barrier dysfunction occurs as a consequence as well as cause of inflammatory responses. Plasma leakage disturbs fluid homeostasis and impairs tissue oxygenation, a pathophysiological process contributing to multiple organ dysfunction associated with trauma, infection, metabolic disorder, and other forms of disease. In this book, we provide an updated overview of microvascular endothelial barrier structure and function in health and disease. The discussion is initiated with the basic physiological principles of fluid and solute transport across microvascular endothelium, followed by detailed information on endothelial cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions and the experimental techniques that are employed to measure endothelial permeability. Further discussion focuses on the signaling and molecular mechanisms of endothelial barrier responses to various stimulations or drugs, as well as their relevance to several common clinical conditions. Taken together, this book provides a comprehensive analysis of microvascular endothelial cell and molecular pathophysiology. Such information will assist scientists and clinicians in advanced basic and clinical research for improved health care.