The murine embryonic blood-brain barrier (BBB) consists of endothelial cells (ECs), pericytes (PCs), and basement membrane. Although PCs are critical for inducing vascular stability, signaling pathways in PCs that regulate EC morphogenesis during BBB development remain unexplored. Herein, we find that murine embryos lacking the transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) receptor activin receptor-like kinase 5 (Alk5) in brain PCs (mutants) develop gross germinal matrix hemorrhage-intraventricular hemorrhage (GMH-IVH). The germinal matrix (GM) is a highly vascularized structure rich in neuronal and glial precursors. We show that GM microvessels of mutants display abnormal dilation, reduced PC coverage, EC hyperproliferation, reduced basement membrane collagen, and enhanced perivascular matrix metalloproteinase activity. Furthermore, ALK5-depleted PCs downregulate tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase 3 (TIMP3), and TIMP3 administration to mutants improves endothelial morphogenesis and attenuates GMH-IVH. Overall, our findings reveal a key role for PC ALK5 in regulating brain endothelial morphogenesis and a substantial therapeutic potential for TIMP3 during GMH-IVH.
Elevated risk of developing Alzheimer's disease (AD) is associated with hypomorphic variants of TREM2, a surface receptor required for microglial responses to neurodegeneration, including proliferation, survival, clustering, and phagocytosis. How TREM2 promotes such diverse responses is unknown. Here, we find that microglia in AD patients carrying TREM2 risk variants and TREM2-deficient mice with AD-like pathology have abundant autophagic vesicles, as do TREM2-deficient macrophages under growth-factor limitation or endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. Combined metabolomics and RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) linked this anomalous autophagy to defective mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling, which affects ATP levels and biosynthetic pathways. Metabolic derailment and autophagy were offset in vitro through Dectin-1, a receptor that elicits TREM2-like intracellular signals, and cyclocreatine, a creatine analog that can supply ATP. Dietary cyclocreatine tempered autophagy, restored microglial clustering around plaques, and decreased plaque-adjacent neuronal dystrophy in TREM2-deficient mice with amyloid-β pathology. Thus, TREM2 enables microglial responses during AD by sustaining cellular energetic and biosynthetic metabolism.