Leucocyte/endothelium interactions and microvessel permeability: Coupled or uncoupled?

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In response to infections or tissue injury, circulating leucocytes adhere to and migrate from the vessel lumen to interstitial inflammatory sites to combat invading pathogens. However, these defensive actions may also cause host tissue injury and microvascular dysfunction through oxidative bursts or enzyme release. For decades, the interaction between leucocytes and microvessel walls has been considered as a critical event leading to organ dysfunction. Extensive investigations have therefore focused on blocking specific adhesive ligands to prevent tissue injury. However, anti-adhesion therapies have shown limited success in preventing vascular dysfunction in clinical trials. Numerous studies have demonstrated temporal and spatial dissociations of leucocyte adhesion and/or emigration from permeability increases. The mechanisms that initiate the adhesion cascade have been found to be distinct from those that trigger the leucocyte oxidative burst responsible for increasing microvessel permeability. Recent studies demonstrated that endothelial activation by inflammatory mediators is critical for initiating platelet adhesion and platelet-dependent leucocyte recruitment resulting in augmented increases in microvessel permeability. These new developments suggest that targeting endothelial activation via directly enhancing endothelial barrier function might be a more efficient strategy than focusing on anti-adhesion or platelet/leucocyte depletion to prevent vascular damage during inflammation. Owing to space limitations and the wide range of studies in the field, this article will not serve as a comprehensive review. Instead, it will highlight the emerging evidence of adhesion-uncoupled permeability changes and establish a basis for re-evaluating the coupled relationship between leucocyte/platelet activation and microvessel permeability to achieve a better understanding of permeability regulation during inflammation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)281-290
Number of pages10
JournalCardiovascular Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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