Establishment of a simplified in vitro porcine blood-brain barrier model with high transendothelial electrical resistance.

A Patabendige, RA Skinner, NJ Abbott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

116 Citations (Scopus)


Good in vitroblood–brain barrier (BBB) models that mimic the in vivoBBB phenotype are essential for studies on BBB functionality and for initial screening in drug discovery programmes, as many potential therapeutic drug candidates have poor BBB permeation. Difficulties associated with the availability of human brain tissue, coupled with the time and cost associated with using animals for this kind of research have led to the development of non-human cell culture models. However, most BBB models display a low transendothelial electrical resistance (TEER), which is a measure of the tightness of the BBB. To address these issues we have established and optimised a robust, simple to use in vitro BBB model using porcine brain endothelial cells (PBECs). The PBEC model gives high TEER without the need for co-culture with astrocytes (up to 1300Ocm2with a mean TEER of800Ocm2) with well-organised tight junctions as shown by immunostaining for occludin and claudin-5. Functional assays confirmed the presence of high levels of alkaline phosphatase (ALP), and the presence of the efflux transporter, P-glycoprotein (P-gp, ABCB1). Presence of the breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP,ABCG2) was confirmed by TaqMan real-time RT-PCR assay. Real-time RT-PCR assays for BCRP, occludin and claudin-5 demonstrated no significant differences between batches of PBECs, and also between primary and passage 1 PBECs. A permeability screen of 10 compounds demonstrated the usefulness of the model as a tool for drug permeability studies. Qualitative and quantitative results from this study confirm that this in vitroporcine BBB model is reliable and robust; it is also simpler to generate than most other BBB models. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Electrical Synapses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
JournalBrain Research
Early online date10 Jul 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Brain endothelium
  • Transendothelial electrial resistance
  • Tight junction
  • Transport
  • Permeability


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