Modulation of blood-brain barrier permeability by neutrophils: in vitro and in vivo studies

Joice, Shannon L.; Mydeen, Firdau; Couraud, Pierre-Olivier; Weksler, Babette B.; Romero, Ignacio A.; Fraser, Paul A. and Easton, Alexander S. (2009). Modulation of blood-brain barrier permeability by neutrophils: in vitro and in vivo studies. Brain Research, 1298 pp. 13–23.



The blood-brain barrier (BBB) restricts solute permeability across healthy cerebral endothelial cells. However, during inflammation, permeability is increased and can lead to deleterious cerebral edema. Neutrophils are early cellular participants in acute inflammation, but their effect on BBB permeability is unclear. To study this, neutrophils were applied in a resting and activated state to in vitro and in vivo models of the BBB. In vitro, human neutrophils (5 × 106/ml) were activated with tumor necrosis factor (100U/ml) and leukotriene B4 (10-7mol/l). Untreated neutrophils reduced permeability across the human brain endothelial cell line hCMEC/D3. Activated neutrophils returned permeability to baseline, an effect blocked by the reactive oxygen scavengers superoxide dismutase (10U/ml) and catalase (1000U/ml). In vivo, human neutrophils (2.5 × 105 in 4μl) were injected into the striatum of anesthetized juvenile Wistar rats, and BBB permeability measured 30 minutes later. This was compared to control injections (4μl) of vehicle (0.9% saline) and arachidonic acid (10-3mol/l). The injection generated a small hematoma around the injection tract (<3μl). Untreated neutrophils induced significantly lower permeability in their vicinity than activated neutrophils, with a trend to lowered permeability compared to the vehicle control. Neither untreated nor activated neutrophils induced permeability increases, while arachidonic acid increased permeability as a positive control. This study further delineates the effect of neutrophils on the BBB, and demonstrates that resting neutrophils induce acute reductions in permeability while activated neutrophils have a neutral effect. The in vivo model reiterates some aspects of acute intracerebral hemorrhage.

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