In vitro models of the blood–brain barrier: An overview of commonly used brain endothelial cell culture models and guidelines for their use

Helms, Hans C; Abbott, N Joan; Burek, Malgorzata; Cecchelli, Romeo; Couraud, Pierre-Olivier; Deli, Maria A; Förster, Carola; Galla, Hans J; Romero, Ignacio A; Shusta, Eric V; Stebbins, Matthew J; Vandenhaute, Elodie; Weksler, Babette and Brodin, Birger (2016). In vitro models of the blood–brain barrier: An overview of commonly used brain endothelial cell culture models and guidelines for their use. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism, 36(5) pp. 862–890.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0271678X16630991

Abstract

The endothelial cells lining the brain capillaries separate the blood from the brain parenchyma. The endothelial monolayer of the brain capillaries serves both as a crucial interface for exchange of nutrients, gases, and metabolites between blood and brain, and as a barrier for neurotoxic components of plasma and xenobiotics. This “blood-brain barrier” function is a major hindrance for drug uptake into the brain parenchyma. Cell culture models, based on either primary cells or immortalized brain endothelial cell lines, have been developed, in order to facilitate in vitro studies of drug transport to the brain and studies of endothelial cell biology and pathophysiology. In this review, we aim to give an overview of established in vitro blood–brain barrier models with a focus on their validation regarding a set of well-established blood–brain barrier characteristics. As an ideal cell culture model of the blood–brain barrier is yet to be developed, we also aim to give an overview of the advantages and drawbacks of the different models described.

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