Astrocytes induce several blood–brain barrier properties in non-neural endothelial cells

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Abstract

THE passage of immunocompetent cells across the blood–brain barrier (BBB) is regulated at the level of the cerebral capillaries which have specific morphological and biochemical properties. We have developed and characterized an in vitro model of the BBB using immortalized human endothelial cells (ECV 304) induced by rat astrocytes. In this model, endothelial cells are attached together by continuous intercellular junctions with numerous tight junctions, develop a permeability barrier having a significant transcellular electrical resistance, possess high activities of γ-glutamyl transpeptidase (γ-GTP) and express the brain-type glucose transporter 1 (GLUT-1). These parameters are also characteristic of brain capillary endothelial cells. Under the culture conditions used, the ECV 304 cells express the intercellular adhesion molecule-1 (ICAM-1) on the external plasma membrane at concentrations which could permit lymphocyte adhesion to be studied.

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