The brain interstitial system: Anatomy, modeling, in vivo measurement, and applications

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HIGHLIGHTSAn overview of the brain interstitial space (ISS), with a comprehensive consideration of neurobiology, biophysics, therapeutics, neuroimaging, image analysis and processing technologies.Detailed discussion of a novel tracer-based MRI method that can image brain ISF flow in deep nuclei and the recent discovery of brain ISS divisions using this method.Insights into the impacts of brain ISS knowledge on understanding brain structure, function, and mechanisms as well as improving therapeutics for brain disorders.Although neurons attract the most attention in neurobiology, our current knowledge of neural circuit can only partially explain the neurological and psychiatric conditions of the brain. Thus, it is also important to consider the influence of brain interstitial system (ISS), which refers to the space among neural cells and capillaries. The ISS is the major compartment of the brain microenvironment that provides the immediate accommodation space for neural cells, and it occupies 15% to 20% of the total brain volume. The brain ISS is a dynamic and complex space connecting the vascular system and neural networks and it plays crucial roles in substance transport and signal transmission among neurons. Investigation of the brain ISS can provide new perspectives for understanding brain architecture and function and for exploring new strategies to treat brain disorders. This review discussed the anatomy of the brain ISS under both physiological and pathological conditions, biophysical modeling of the brain ISS and in vivo measurement and imaging techniques, including recent findings on brain ISS divisions. Moreover, the implications of ISS knowledge for basic neuroscience and clinical applications are addressed.

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