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Eur J Neurosci. 2006 Jul;24(1):65-76. Epub 2006 Jun 26.

Blood-CSF barrier function in the rat embryo.

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Department of Pharmacology & Centre for Neuroscience, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria 3010, Australia.


Blood-cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) barrier function and expansion of the ventricular system were investigated in embryonic rats (E12-18). Permeability markers (sucrose and inulin) were injected intraperitoneally and concentrations measured in plasma and CSF at two sites (lateral and 4th ventricles) after 1 h. Total protein concentrations were also measured. CSF/plasma concentration ratios for endogenous protein were stable at approximately 20% at E14-18 and subsequently declined. In contrast, ratios for sucrose (100%) and inulin (40%) were highest at the earliest ages studied (E13-14) and then decreased substantially. Between E13 and E16 the volume of the lateral ventricles increased over three-fold. Decreasing CSF/plasma concentration ratios for small, passively diffusing molecules during embryonic development may not reflect changes in permeability. Instead, increasing volume of distribution appears to be important in this decline. The intracellular presence of a small marker (3000 Da biotin-dextranamine) in plexus epithelial cells following intraperitoneal injection indicates a transcellular route of transfer. Ultrastructural evidence confirmed that choroid plexus tight junctions are impermeable to small molecules at least as early as E15, indicating the blood-CSF barrier is morphologically and functionally mature early in embryonic development. Comparison of two albumins (human and bovine) showed that transfer of human albumin (surrogate for endogenous protein) was 4-5 times greater than bovine, indicating selective blood-to-CSF transfer. The number of plexus epithelial cells immunopositive for endogenous plasma protein increased in parallel with increases in total protein content of the expanding ventricular system. Results suggest that different transcellular mechanisms for protein and small molecule transfer are operating across the embryonic blood-CSF interface.

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