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Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol. 2001 Oct;27(5):384-95.

Occludin expression in microvessels of neoplastic and non-neoplastic human brain.

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  • 1Department of Neurosurgery, Atkinson Morley's Hospital, London SW20 0NE, UK.


The tight junction protein occludin 'glues' normal, adjacent brain microvessel endothelial cells together. Malignant brain tumours cause cerebral oedema because they have leaky endothelial tight junctions, which allow plasma fluid to enter the brain from the microvessel lumen. In order to identify molecular abnormalities in tumour endothelial tight junctions, we investigated occludin expression in microvessels from adult human non-neoplastic brain tissue using immunohistochemistry and immunoblotting. The proportions of microvessels immunolabelling for occludin were >2/3 in 5/5 non-neoplastic brain tissue samples, >1/3 in 5/5 low grade (Daumas-Duport I or II) astrocytomas and <1/3 in 5/5 high grade (III or IV) astrocytomas and 6/6 metastatic adenocarcinomas. Six non-neoplastic brain tissue immunoblots gave a 55-kDa occludin band, three low-grade astrocytomas gave 55-kDa and 60-kDa bands, 13 high-grade astrocytomas gave 60-kDa or no band and four adenocarcinomas did not give an occludin band. Expression of 55-kDa occludin inversely correlated with the presence of contrast enhancement on computed tomograms (P < 0.001). Electron microscopy showed open endothelial tight junctions in 0/2 non-neoplastic human brain specimens and 2/2 high-grade astrocytomas. We suggest that loss of 55-kDa occludin expression in human brain tumours may contribute to endothelial tight junction opening. Characterizing the molecular pathology of brain endothelial tight junctions may facilitate the design of novel drugs against cerebral oedema.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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