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Dev Biol. 1986 Oct;117(2):537-45.

Differentiation-dependent expression of proteins in brain endothelium during development of the blood-brain barrier.


The blood-brain barrier is a specific property of differentiated brain endothelium. To study the differentiation of blood vessels in the brain, we have correlated the expression of a number of proteins in brain endothelial cells with the development of the blood-brain barrier in mouse, quail, and chick embryos. Using histochemical methods, alkaline phosphatase activity was found to be present in all species and appeared around embryonic Days 17 (mouse), 14 (quail), and 12 (chick). Butyrylcholinesterase activity was found in the mouse and quail but not the chick brain vasculature, and appeared around Days 17 (mouse) and 15 (quail). gamma-Glutamyltranspeptidase activity was demonstrated histochemically in mouse but not in chick and quail brain capillaries, beginning at Day 15. Transferrin receptor was localized on brain endothelium in all species by immunofluorescence methods using monoclonal antibodies. It appeared at Days 15 and 11 in mouse and chick embryonic brain, respectively. The staining of all markers in embryonic brain was compared with adult brain endothelium and the leptomeningeal blood vessels. The expression of these proteins was correlated with the development of the blood-brain barrier by studying the permeability of brain endothelium for the protein horseradish peroxidase during mouse embryogenesis. Vessels in the telencephalon were found to become impermeable around Day 16 of development. Taken together the results of previous investigations and those presented here, we conclude that a number of proteins are sequentially expressed in brain endothelial cells correlating in time with the formation of the blood-brain barrier in different species.

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