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Life Sci. 2008 Jun 20;82(25-26):1281-7. doi: 10.1016/j.lfs.2008.04.017. Epub 2008 May 9.

Fluvastatin prevents glutamate-induced blood-brain-barrier disruption in vitro.

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Institute of Physiology and Pathophysiology, Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Duesbergweg 6, 55128 Mainz, Germany.


Glutamate is an important excitatory amino acid in the central nervous system. Under pathological conditions glutamate levels dramatically increase. Aim of the present study was to examine whether the HMG-CoA inhibitor fluvastatin prevents glutamate-induced blood-brain-barrier (BBB) disruption. Measurements of transendothelial electrical resistance (TEER) were performed to analyze BBB integrity in an in vitro co-culture model of brain endothelial and glial cells. Myosin light chain (MLC) phosphorylation was detected by immunohistochemistry, or using the in-cell western technique. Intracellular Ca2+ and reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels were analyzed using the fluorescence dyes Ca-green or DCF. Glutamate induced a time- (1-3 h) and concentration- (0.25-1 mmol/l) dependent decrease of TEER values that was blocked by the NMDA-receptor antagonist MK801, the Ca2+ chelator BAPTA, the NAD(P)H-oxidase inhibitor apocynin and the MLC-kinase inhibitor ML-7. Furthermore we observed a concentration-dependent increase of intracellular Ca2+ and ROS after glutamate application. Glutamate caused an increase of MLC phosphorylation that was antagonized by apocynin, or BAPTA, indicating that Ca2+ and ROS signaling is involved in the activation of the contractile machinery. Fluvastatin (10-25 micromol/l) completely abolished the glutamate-induced barrier disruption and oxidative stress. The BBB-protecting effect of fluvastatin was completely lost if the cells were treated with the nitric oxide (NO) synthase inhibitor L-NMMA (300 micromol/l). In the present study we demonstrated that glutamate-induced BBB disruption involves Ca2+ signalling via NMDA receptors, which is followed by an increased ROS generation by the NAD(P)H-oxidase. This oxidative stress then activates the MLC kinase. Fluvastatin preserves barrier function in a NO-dependent way and reduces glutamate-induced oxidative stress.

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