Influence of basolateral condition on the regulation of brain microvascular endothelial tight junction properties and barrier function

Olga C Colgan, Nora T Collins, Gail Ferguson, Ronan P Murphy, Yvonne A Birney, Paul A Cahill, Philip M Cummins

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

74 Citations (Scopus)


Basolateral condition of the brain microvascular endothelium is believed to influence blood-brain barrier (BBB) phenotype, although the precise transcriptional and post-translational mechanisms involved are poorly defined. In vivo, the basolateral surface of the blood-brain endothelium is bathed in serum-free interstitial fluid and encompassed by astrocytic end-feet. We hypothesized that these conditions impact on BBB function by directly modulating expression and biochemical properties of tight junctions. To investigate this, an in vitro transwell culture model was employed to selectively modify the basolateral environment of bovine brain microvascular endothelial cells (BBMvECs). In the absence of basolateral (but not apical) serum, we observed higher levels of expression, association and plasma membrane localization for the tight junction proteins, occludin and zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1), in parallel with elevated transendothelial electrical resistance (TEER) and reduced (14)[C]-sucrose permeability of BBMvEC monolayers. We further examined the effects of non-contact co-culture with basolateral astrocytes (C6 glioma) on indices of BBMvEC barrier function in both the presence and absence of serum. Astrocyte co-culture with serum led to enhanced occludin protein expression, occludin/ZO-1 association, and ZO-1 membrane localization, in parallel with increased TEER of BBMvEC monolayers. Astrocyte co-culture in the absence of serum (i.e. basolateral conditions most consistent with in vivo BBB physiology) however, gave the highest increases in BBMvEC barrier indices. Thus, we can conclude that factors influencing condition of the basolateral environment of the brain microvasculature can directly, and independently, modify BBB properties by regulating the expression and biochemical properties of the tight junction proteins, occludin and ZO-1.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-92
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Research
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2008


  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Astrocytes/drug effects
  • Brain/anatomy & histology
  • Capillary Permeability/physiology
  • Cattle
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Culture Media, Conditioned/pharmacology
  • Electric Impedance
  • Endothelial Cells/physiology
  • Endothelium, Vascular/cytology
  • Gene Expression Regulation/drug effects
  • Membrane Proteins/genetics
  • Occludin
  • Phosphoproteins/genetics
  • Rats
  • Serum/physiology
  • Tight Junctions/physiology
  • Time Factors
  • Zonula Occludens-1 Protein


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