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Brain Extracellular Matrix in Neurodegeneration


Clayton A. Wiley, MD, PhD, Presbyterian University Hospital, Neuropathology Division, 200 Lothrop St. Pittsburgh, PA 15213 (E-mail:


The role of extracellular matrix (ECM) in neurological development, function and degeneration has evolved from a simplistic physical adhesion to a system of intricate cellular signaling. While most cells require ECM adhesion to survive, it is now clear that differentiated function is intimately dependent upon cellular interaction with the ECM. Therefore, it is not surprising that the ECM is increasingly found to be involved in the enigmatic process of neurodegeneration. Descriptive studies of human neurodegenerative disorders and experimental studies of animal models of neurodegeneration have begun to define potential mechanisms of ECM disruption that can lead to synaptic and neuronal loss.