The Interstitial System of the Brain in Health and Disease.
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The brain interstitial fluid (ISF) and the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) cushion and support the brain cells. The ISF occupies the brain interstitial system (ISS), whereas the CSF fills the brain ventricles and the subarachnoid space. The brain ISS is an asymmetrical, tortuous, and exceptionally confined space between neural cells and the brain microvasculature. Recently, with a newly developed in vivo measuring technique, a series of discoveries have been made in the brain ISS and the drainage of ISF. The goal of this review is to confer recent advances in our understanding of the brain ISS, including its structure, function, and the various processes mediating or disrupting ISF drainage in physiological and pathological conditions. The brain ISF in the deep brain regions has recently been demonstrated to drain in a compartmentalized ISS instead of a highly connected system, together with the drainage of ISF into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) at the surface of the cerebral cortex and the transportation from CSF into cervical lymph nodes. Besides, accumulation of tau in the brain ISS in conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and its link to the sleep-wake cycle and sleep deprivation, clearance of ISF in a deep sleep via increased CSF flow, novel approaches to remove beta-amyloid from the brain ISS, and obstruction to the ISF drainage in neurological conditions are deliberated. Moreover, the role of ISS in the passage of extracellular vesicles (EVs) released from neural cells and the rapid targeting of therapeutic EVs into neural cells in the entire brain following an intranasal administration, and the promise and limitations of ISS based drug delivery approaches are discussed.