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Regul Pept. 2004 Dec 15;123(1-3):77-83.

Effects of hypoxia on endothelial/pericytic co-culture model of the blood-brain barrier.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Nagasaki University School of Medicine, Nagasaki, Japan.


The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is composed of endothelial cells, pericytes and astrocytic foot processes. Most research for the in vitro BBB is performed endothelial cells with or without astrocytes. Hypoxia damage to the BBB induces vasogenic brain edema. We have generated a new model of the BBB with brain endothelial cells and pericytes and have examined the effects of hypoxia using this model. Brain microvascular endothelial cells and pericytes were isolated from three-week-old male Wister rats using enzyme and mechanical homogenization. Three models (A: only endothelial monolayer, B: endothelial monolayer with pericytes non-contact condition, and C: contact condition) were made by culturing these cells using Transwell co-culture system and were exposed to hypoxic condition. We evaluated barrier function with transendothelial electrical resistance (TEER) and permeability of Evans blue-albumin and sodium fluorescein. The tightest barrier was observed in the endothelial/pericytic contact model. Despite hypoxia-induced disruption of the barrier in endothelial monolayer and non-contact co-culture models, a minimum of dysfunction was seen in the contact co-culture model. Therefore, it is considered that pericytes effect on the endothelia by secreting factors or through a gap junction. In short, pericytes induce endothelial maturation and a tighter barrier function, which supports the function against the hypoxic injury. Intercellular communication might be important to keep the BBB functional and stabilize in hypoxia.

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