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Akihiko Urayama

Akihiko Urayama

Regular Member

Assistant Professor

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
McGovern Medical School
Department of Neurology

Brain function is maintained in a well-controlled environment which is separated from the systemic milieu. The mechanisms that regulate the unique environment of the brain are collectively referred as the blood-brain barrier (BBB) which separates the brain parenchymal environment from the blood and cerebral vasculature. The BBB is mainly made up of microvessel endothelial cells, basal membrane matrix, pericytes, perivascular fluid, astrocytic end feet, and some direct neural projections. The BBB is one of the most impermeable biological barriers. At the same time, it is also the most specialized interface in the body, regulating communication between the brain and the peripheral tissues.

We are interested in understanding the physiology of the BBB and in utilizing the acquired knowledge to provide therapeutic solutions to manipulate pathological brain environments in diseases. Our research focuses on receptor trafficking, macromolecule transport, and immune cell infiltration at the BBB in health and disease. Our work addresses many issues that are important for CNS diseases, ranging from juvenile disorders such as lysosomal storage disease, to age–related neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease and post-stroke cognitive impairment.

It is our desire to develop a universal delivery strategy to treat CNS disease and reverse age-related brain injury. Statistics indicate that more than 98% of CNS drugs fail to pass through the BBB. The market for treatment of diseases related to BBB and parenchymal brain dysfunction is more than 5 billion USD. Strategies to increase brain delivery of therapeutics would change the way we treat diseases such as amyloid, vascular dementia, and cancer.

In my laboratory we employ the following research techniques; in vivo BBB transport assays, primary culture of brain endothelial cells, stroke models, immunohistochemical staining, whole animal behavior analysis, flow cytometry, confocal and intravital multiphoton microscopy.

A GSBS tutorial is available through the cerebral vascular research group.


McGovern Medical School Faculty

Education & Training

PhD, University of Shizuoka, 2002

Research Opportunities


Faculty Development