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Neuroscience. 2008 Apr 22;153(1):175-81. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2008.02.012. Epub 2008 Feb 19.

The blood-brain barrier is continuously open for several weeks following transient focal cerebral ischemia.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Haartmaninkatu 4, 00290 Helsinki, Finland.


The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is the principal regulator of blood-borne substance entry into the brain parenchyma. Therefore, BBB leakage, which leads to cerebral edema and influx of toxic substances, is common in pathological conditions such as cerebral ischemia, inflammation, trauma, and tumors. The leakage of BBB after ischemia-reperfusion injury has long been considered to be biphasic, although a considerable amount of discrepancies as for the timing of the second opening does exist among the studies. This led us to evaluate systematically and quantitatively the dynamics of BBB leakage in a rat model of 90-min ischemia-reperfusion, using gadolinium-enhanced (small molecule) magnetic resonance imaging and fluorescent dye Evans Blue (large molecule). BBB leakage was assessed at the following time points after reperfusion: 25 min, 2, 4, 6, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, and 72 h, and 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 weeks. We observed BBB leakage for both gadolinium and Evans Blue as early as 25 min after reperfusion. Thereafter, BBB remained open for up to 3 weeks for Evans Blue and up to 5 weeks for gadolinium. Our results show that BBB leakage after ischemia-reperfusion injury in the rat is continuous and long-lasting, without any closure up to several weeks. This is the first systematic and extensive study fully demonstrating BBB leakage dynamics following transient brain ischemia and the findings are of major clinical and experimental interest.

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