Conditional deletion of Ccm2 causes hemorrhage in the adult brain: a mouse model of human cerebral cavernous malformations.
Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCM) are irregularly shaped and enlarged capillaries in the brain that are prone to hemorrhage, resulting in headaches, seizures, strokes and even death in patients. The disease affects up to 0.5% of the population and the inherited form has been linked to mutations in one of three genetic loci, CCM1, CCM2 and CCM3. To understand the pathophysiology underlying the vascular lesions in CCM, it is critical to develop a reproducible mouse genetic model of this disease. Here, we report that limited conditional ablation of Ccm2 in young adult mice induces observable neurological dysfunction and reproducibly results in brain hemorrhages whose appearance is highly reminiscent of the lesions observed in human CCM patients. We first demonstrate that conventional or endothelial-specific deletion of Ccm2 leads to fatal cardiovascular defects during embryogenesis, including insufficient vascular lumen formation as well as defective arteriogenesis and heart malformation. These findings confirm and extend prior studies. We then demonstrate that the inducible deletion of Ccm2 in adult mice recapitulates the CCM-like brain lesions in humans; the lesions display disrupted vascular lumens, enlarged capillary cavities, loss of proper neuro-vascular associations and an inflammatory reaction. The CCM lesions also exhibit damaged neuronal architecture, the likely cause of neurologic defects, such as ataxia and seizure. These mice represent the first CCM2 animal model for CCM and should provide the means to elucidate disease mechanisms and evaluate therapeutic strategies for human CCM.