The role of the blood-brain barrier during neurological disease and infection

Adjanie Patabendige, Damir Janigro

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

14 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


A healthy brain is protected by the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which is formed by the endothelial cells that line brain capillaries. The BBB plays an extremely important role in supporting normal neuronal function by maintaining the homeostasis of the brain microenvironment and restricting pathogen and toxin entry to the brain. Dysfunction of this highly complex and regulated structure can be life threatening. BBB dysfunction is implicated in many neurological diseases such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, and brain infections. Among other mechanisms, inflammation and/or flow disturbances are major causes of BBB dysfunction in neurological infections and diseases. In particular, in ischaemic stroke, both inflammation and flow disturbances contribute to BBB disruption, leading to devastating consequences. While a transient or minor disruption to the barrier function could be tolerated, chronic or a total breach of the barrier can result in irreversible brain damage. It is worth noting that timing and extent of BBB disruption play an important role in the process of any repair of brain damage and treatment strategies. This review evaluates and summarises some of the latest research on the role of the BBB during neurological disease and infection with a focus on the effects of inflammation and flow disturbances on the BBB. The BBB's crucial role in protecting the brain is also the bottleneck in central nervous system drug development. Therefore, innovative strategies to carry therapeutics across the BBB and novel models to screen drugs, and to study the complex, overlapping mechanisms of BBB disruption are urgently needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalBiochemical Society Transactions
Issue number2
Early online date17 Mar 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Mar 2023


  • blood-brain barrier
  • ischaemic stroke
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • atrial fibrillation


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