Aging and several neurodegenerative diseases bring about changes in the anatomy and physiology of the choroid plexus. The identification of specific membrane receptors that bind and internalize extracellular ligands has revolutionized the traditional roles of this tissue. Amyloid beta peptide (Aβ), the major constituent of the amyloid core of senile plaques in patients with Alzheimers disease (AD) is known to contribute to disease neuropathology and progression. Recent emphasis on comorbidity of AD and a deficient clearance of Aβ across the blood – brain barrier and bloodcerebrospinal fluid barrier have highlighted the importance of brain Aβ clearance in AD. The megalin receptor has also been implicated in the pathogenesis of AD. Faulty Aβ clearance from the brain across the choroid plexus epithelium by megalin appears to mediate focal Aβ accumulation in AD. Patients with AD have reduced levels of megalin at the choroid plexus, which in turn seem to increase brain levels of Aβ through a decreased efflux of brain Aβ. Therapies that increase megalin expression at the choroid plexus could potentially control accumulation of brain Aβ.
This review covers in depth the anatomy and function of the choroid plexus, focusing on the brain barrier at the choroid plexus, as it actively participates in Aβ clearance. In addition, we describe the role of the choroid plexus in brain functions, aging and AD, as well as the role of megalin in the process of Aβ clearance. Finally, we present current data on the use of choroid plexus cells to repair the damaged brain.