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J Neurosci Res. 2014 Feb;92(2):141-7. doi: 10.1002/jnr.23300. Epub 2013 Nov 21.

Blood-brain barrier and traumatic brain injury.

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Doctoral Programme in Health Sciences, Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal.


The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is an anatomical microstructural unit, with several different components playing key roles in normal brain physiological regulation. Formed by tightly connected cerebrovascular endothelial cells, its normal function depends on paracrine interactions between endothelium and closely related glia, with several recent reports stressing the need to consider the entire gliovascular unit in order to explain the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms. Despite that, with regard to traumatic brain injury (TBI) and significant events in incidence and potential clinical consequences in pediatric and adult ages, little is known about the actual role of BBB disruption in its diverse pathological pathways. This Mini-Review addresses the current literature on possible factors affecting gliovascular units and contributing to posttraumatic BBB dysfunction, including neuroinflammation and disturbed transport mechanisms along with altered permeability and consequent posttraumatic edema. Key mechanisms and its components are described, and promising lines of basic and clinical research are identified, because further knowledge on BBB pathological interference should play a key role in understanding TBI and provide a basis for possible therapeutic targets in the near future, whether through restoration of normal BBB function after injury or delivering drugs in an increased permeability context, preventing secondary damage and improving functional outcome.


blood-brain barrier; glia; glial cells; injury

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