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J Surg Res. 2008 May 15;146(2):276-81. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2007.07.021. Epub 2007 Aug 23.

Injury of the blood brain barrier and up-regulation of icam-1 in polymicrobial sepsis.

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Department of Anesthesiology, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.



The pathogenesis and mechanisms of septic encephalopathy are not completely understood. We compared two different models of sepsis: lipopolysaccharide-induced endotoxemia and cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) bacteremia in rats with respect to changes in endothelial expression of the adhesion molecules intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1), platelet-endothelial cell adhesion molecule-1 (PECAM-1), and of cerebral albumin extravasation as a marker for capillary breakdown of the blood brain barrier.


Male Wistar rats were divided into control, endotoxemia, or CLP-group. Mean arterial blood pressure was measured via femoral artery catheterization. Brain tissue for immunohistochemistry was harvested at 1 h, 6 h, and 24 h after induction of sepsis.


The CLP-group showed a decrease in mean arterial pressure after 24 h in comparison with the sham-group (P < 0.05). Cerebral ICAM-1 expression was at its maximum 24 h after induction of sepsis, with the highest expression in the CLP-group. There was no difference in PECAM-1 expression between the groups. Cerebral albumin extravasation increased early after 6 h in both septic groups with a maximum at 24 h after induction of sepsis.


These results suggest that there are early changes in the integrity of the blood-brain barrier in the central nervous system in an ongoing septic progress. This provides evidence that these changes are due to inflammatory mediators, and not to the presence of live bacteria. Increased ICAM-1 expression might be an early factor involved in these pathogenic events. Although the role of PECAM-1 cannot conclusively be determined, we were able to show its expression on cerebral endothelium in all groups.

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