The most important obstacle to the drug delivery into the brain is the presence of the blood-brain barrier, which limits the traffic of substances between the blood and the nervous tissue. Therefore, adequate in vitro models need to be developed in order to characterize the penetration properties of drug candidates into the central nervous system. This review article summarizes the presently used and the most promising in vitro BBB models based on the culture of brain endothelial cells. Robust models can be obtained using primary porcine brain endothelial cells and rodent coculture models, which have low paracellular permeability and express functional efflux transporters, showing good correlation of drug penetration data with in vivo results. Models mimicking the in vivo anatomophysiological complexity of the BBB are also available, including triple coculture (culture of brain endothelial cells in the presence of pericytes and astrocytes), dynamic, and microfluidic models; however, these are not suitable for rapid, high throughput studies. Potent human cell lines would be needed for easily available and reproducible models which avoid interspecies differences.
Over 20 years ago, the Sadowski group separated two mouse lines, one with high (HA) and the other with low (LA) sensitivity to swim stress-induced analgesia (SSIA). Recently, we proposed that increased leakage of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in the HA line created the difference in the response to SSIA. To search for further evidence for this hypothesis, differences in the levels of the BBB proteins occludin and claudin-5 were analysed. In addition, we sought to evaluate practical differences in BBB permeability by examining the antinociceptive levels in HA and LA mouse lines after IV administration of peptides that have limited access to the CNS. Western blot was used to analyse the differences between occludin and claudin-5. To evaluate the functional differences between the BBB of HA and LA mice, the antinociception levels of endomorphin I, biphalin and AA2016 (peptides with limited BBB permeabilities) in the tail flick test were examined. The expression levels of occludin and claudin-5 in the HA mouse line were lower than in the LA and control mice. Central antinociception of the opioid peptides were significantly higher in the HA line than in the LA and control lines. Our data support the hypothesis that BBB leakage is responsible for the differences between the HA and LA mouse lines. Although SSIA confirmed BBB differences between both lines, it is not limited to the opioid system and could be a useful model for studying the role of the BBB in molecular communications between the periphery and CNS.
During parenchymal brain metastasis formation tumor cells need to migrate through cerebral endothelial cells, which form the morphological basis of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The mechanisms of extravasation of tumor cells are highly uncharacterized, but in some aspects recapitulate the diapedesis of leukocytes. Extravasation of leukocytes through the BBB is decreased by the activation of type 2 cannabinoid receptors (CB2); therefore, in the present study we sought to investigate the role of CB2 receptors in the interaction of melanoma cells with the brain endothelium. First, we identified the presence of CB1, CB2(A), GPR18 (transcriptional variant 1) and GPR55 receptors in brain endothelial cells, while melanoma cells expressed CB1, CB2(A), GPR18 (transcriptional variants 1 and 2), GPR55 and GPR119. We observed that activation of CB2 receptors with JWH-133 reduced the adhesion of melanoma cells to the layer of brain endothelial cells. JWH-133 decreased the transendothelial migration rate of melanoma cells as well. Our results suggest that changes induced in endothelial cells are critical in the mediation of the effect of CB2 agonists. Our data identify CB2 as a potential target in reducing the number of brain metastastes originating from melanoma.
Cerebral microvascular endothelial cells-coming in contact with pericytes and astrocytes-constitute the structural basis of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The continuous belt of interendothelial tight junctions (TJs) and the presence of specific transport systems, enzymes, and receptors in the brain endothelium regulate the molecular and cellular traffic into the central nervous system. Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating polypeptide (PACAP) is a neuropeptide having several cellular protective effects. However, little is known about the effects of PACAP on the cerebral endothelium and BBB functions. Here, we show that PACAP has no significant pro-survival role in cerebral microvascular endothelial cells; however, it improves the barrier properties of the brain endothelium. PACAP induces an increase in the transendothelial electrical resistance, which is the most important marker of the tightness of the TJs. Moreover, PACAP has a protective role against glucose deprivation- and oxidative stress-induced junctional damage in microvascular brain endothelial cells.
We have investigated the role of the Rho/ROCK signaling pathway in the interaction of metastatic melanoma cells with the brain endothelium. ROCK inhibition induced a shift of melanoma cells to the mesenchymal phenotype, increased the number of melanoma cells attached to the brain endothelium, and strengthened the adhesion force between melanoma and endothelial cells. Inhibition of ROCK raised the number of melanoma cells migrating through the brain endothelial monolayer and promoted the formation of parenchymal brain metastases in vivo. We have shown that inhibition of the Rho/ROCK pathway in melanoma, but not in brain endothelial cells, is responsible for this phenomenon. Our results indicate that the mesenchymal type of tumor cell movement is primordial in the transmigration of melanoma cells through the blood-brain barrier.
The majority of brain metastases originate from lung cancer, breast cancer and malignant melanoma. In order to reach the brain, parenchyma metastatic cells have to transmigrate through the endothelial cell layer of brain capillaries, which forms the morphological basis of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The BBB has a dual role in brain metastasis formation: it forms a tight barrier protecting the central nervous system from entering cancer cells, but it is also actively involved in protecting metastatic cells during extravasation and proliferation in the brain. The mechanisms of interaction of cancer cells and cerebral endothelial cells are largely uncharacterized. Here, we provide a comprehensive review on our current knowledge about the role of junctional and adhesion molecules, soluble factors, proteolytic enzymes and signaling pathways mediating the attachment of tumor cells to brain endothelial cells and the transendothelial migration of metastatic cells. Since brain metastases represent a great therapeutic challenge, it is indispensable to understand the mechanisms of the interaction of tumor cells with the BBB in order to find targets of prevention of brain metastasis formation.
Circulating RNA may result from excessive cell damage or acute viral infection and can interact with vascular endothelial cells. Despite the obvious clinical implications associated with the presence of circulating RNA, its pathological effects on endothelial cells and the governing molecular mechanisms are still not fully elucidated. We analyzed the effects of double stranded RNA on primary human pulmonary artery endothelial cells (hPAECs). The effect of natural and synthetic double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) on hPAECs was investigated using trans-endothelial electric resistance, molecule trafficking, calcium (Ca(2+)) homeostasis, gene expression and proliferation studies. Furthermore, the morphology and mechanical changes of the cells caused by synthetic dsRNA was followed by in-situ atomic force microscopy, by vascular-endothelial cadherin and F-actin staining. Our results indicated that exposure of hPAECs to synthetic dsRNA led to functional deficits. This was reflected by morphological and mechanical changes and an increase in the permeability of the endothelial monolayer. hPAECs treated with synthetic dsRNA accumulated in the G1 phase of the cell cycle. Additionally, the proliferation rate of the cells in the presence of synthetic dsRNA was significantly decreased. Furthermore, we found that natural and synthetic dsRNA modulated Ca(2+) signaling in hPAECs by inhibiting the sarco-endoplasmic Ca(2+)-ATPase (SERCA) which is involved in the regulation of the intracellular Ca(2+) homeostasis and thus cell growth. Even upon synthetic dsRNA stimulation silencing of SERCA3 preserved the endothelial monolayer integrity. Our data identify novel mechanisms by which dsRNA can disrupt endothelial barrier function and these may be relevant in inflammatory processes.
Mechanical parameters play a crucial role in proper cellular functions. This article examines the process of the appearance and breaking of adhesion forces during contact between the confluent cerebral endothelial cell layer and a melanoma cell attached to a tipless cantilever. This adhesion is the initial phase of melanoma transmigration through the endothelial cell layer. Taking the force measurement, if the contact was prolonged for several seconds, a decrease in the load force was observed, which corresponds to stress relaxation of the cells. The dependence of adhesion force and stress relaxation on dwell time showed a saturation-like behavior. These stress relaxation curves could be fitted with the sum of two exponentials, suggesting that two independent processes take place simultaneously. The breakup of the adhesion during the retraction of the cantilever with the attached melanoma cell is not continuous but shows jumps. Between living endothelial and melanoma cells, a minimum jump size of about 20 pN could be determined. The minimum jump is independent of the dwell time and load force. It seems to be the elementary binding force between these two cell types. In case of fixed endothelial cells, the adhesion force was strongly decreased and the jumps disappeared, whereas the stress relaxation did not show considerable change upon fixation.
This study provides evidence that quinidine can be used as a probe substrate for ABCB1 in multiple experimental systems both in vitro and in vivo relevant to the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The combination of quinidine and PSC-833 (valspodar) is an effective tool to assess investigational drugs for interactions on ABCB1. Effects of quinidine and substrate-inhibitor interactions were tested in a membrane assay and in monolayer assays. The authors compared quinidine and digoxin as ABCB1 probes in the in vitro assays and found that quinidine was more potent and at least as specific as digoxin in ATPase and monolayer efflux assays employing MDCKII-MDR1 and the rat brain microcapillary endothelial cell system. Brain exposure to quinidine was tested in dual-/triple-probe microdialysis experiments in rats by assessing levels of quinidine in blood and brain. Comparing quinidine levels in dialysate samples from valspodar-treated and control animals, it is evident that systemic/local administration of the inhibitor diminishes the pumping function of ABCB1 at the BBB, resulting in an increased brain penetration of quinidine. In sum, quinidine is a good probe to study ABCB1 function at the BBB. Moreover, quinidine/PSC-833 is an ABCB1-specific substrate/inhibitor combination applicable to many assay systems both in vitro and in vivo.
A cells "redox" (oxidation and reduction) state is determined by the sum of all redox processes yielding reactive oxygen species (ROS), reactive nitrogen species (RNS), and other reactive intermediates. Low amounts of ROS/RNS are generated by different mechanisms in every cell and are important regulatory mediators in many signaling processes (redox signaling). When the physiological balance between the generation and elimination of ROS/RNS is disrupted, oxidative/nitrosative stress with persistent oxidative damage of the organism occurs. Oxidative stress has been suggested to act as initiator and/or mediator of many human diseases. The cerebral vasculature is particularly susceptible to oxidative stress, which is critical since cerebral endothelial cells play a major role in the creation and maintenance of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). This article will only contain a focused introduction on the biochemical background of redox signaling, since this has been reported already in a series of excellent recent reviews. The goal of this work is to increase the understanding of basic mechanisms underlying ROS/RNS-induced BBB disruption, with a focus on the role of matrix metalloproteinases, which, after all, appear to be a key mediator in the initiation and progression of BBB damage elicited by oxidative stress.
The reliable determination of the mechanical properties of a living cell is one of the most important challenges of the atomic force microscopic measurements. In the present study the spatial and temporal dependency of the force measurements on cerebral endothelial cells was investigated. Besides imaging the cells, two different sequences of force measurements were applied: Acquisition of force curves in short time at several points across the cell surface investigating spatial dependence of the elasticity. Acquisition of force curves for long time at a previously determined place, over the cell nucleus, which provides the temporal stability/variation of the measured forces/values. Three different stages of endothelial cell cultures of the hCMEC/D3 cells were used: sub-confluent living, confluent living, and confluent fixed cells. The Youngs modulus was calculated from the force curves using the Hertz model and the results were plotted against time or location correspondingly. The rational of using the three stage of culture was to clarify whether the observed effect belongs to the individual cell, to the ensemble of cells or just to some, not living cell component. In case of sub-confluent cells the results revealed a softer nuclear region compared to the periphery, while an attenuated oscillation like fluctuation in time, with a period of about 10-30 min, was observed. Confluent living cells showed similar tendencies to the sub-confluent cells, but the changes were larger and the temporal oscillations had longer period. The spatial dependency of the elasticity on confluent cells was confirmed by force-volume measurement too. In case of fixed cells neither spatial nor temporal differences were observed between the nuclear and peripheral region, however the Youngs modulus and the error of the measurement was larger, compared to the sub-confluent living cells.
The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is an active interface between the circulation and the central nervous system (CNS) with a dual function: the barrier function restricts the transport from the blood to the brain of potentially toxic or harmful substances; the carrier function is responsible for the transport of nutrients to the brain and removal of metabolites. The BBB plays a crucial role in the clinical practice as well. On the one side there is a large number of neurological disorders including cerebral ischemia, brain trauma and tumors, neurodegenerative disorders, in which the permeability of the BBB is increased. On the other hand due to the relative impermeability of the barrier many drugs are unable to reach the CNS in therapeutically relevant concentration, making the BBB one of the major impediments in the treatment of CNS disorders. The significant scientific and industrial interest in the physiology and pathology of the BBB led to the development of several in vitro models of the BBB. These models are mainly based on the culture of cerebral endothelial cells. The best in vitro models which mimic the best way the in vivo anatomical conditions are the co-culture models in which brain endothelial cells are co-cultured with astrocytes and/or pericytes. Our in vitro BBB model is characterized by high transendothelial electrical resistance (TEER regularily above 200 Ohm x cm(2)), low permeability and expression of several transporters. Our experiments have proven that the model is suitable for basic research and for testing the interaction between the BBB and potential drug candidates (toxicity, permeability, interaction with efflux transporters) as well.
Malignant melanoma represents the third common cause of brain metastasis, having the highest propensity to metastasize to the brain of all primary neoplasms in adults. Since the central nervous system lacks a lymphatic system, the only possibility for melanoma cells to reach the brain is via the blood stream and the blood-brain barrier. Despite the great clinical importance, mechanisms of transmigration of melanoma cells through the blood-brain barrier are incompletely understood. In order to investigate this question we have used an in vitro experimental setup based on the culture of cerebral endothelial cells (CECs) and the A2058 and B16/F10 melanoma cell lines, respectively. Melanoma cells were able to adhere to confluent brain endothelial cells, a process followed by elimination of protrusions and transmigration from the luminal to the basolateral side of the endothelial monolayers. The transmigration process of certain cells was accelerated when they were able to use the routes preformed by previously transmigrated melanoma cells. After migrating through the endothelial monolayer several melanoma cells continued their movement beneath the endothelial cell layer. Melanoma cells coming in contact with brain endothelial cells disrupted the tight and adherens junctions of CECs and used (at least partially) the paracellular transmigration pathway. During this process melanoma cells produced and released large amounts of proteolytic enzymes, mainly gelatinolytic serine proteases, including seprase. The serine protease inhibitor Pefabloc® was able to decrease to 44-55% the number of melanoma cells migrating through CECs. Our results suggest that release of serine proteases by melanoma cells and disintegration of the interendothelial junctional complex are main steps in the formation of brain metastases in malignant melanoma.
Cerebral endothelial cells - the principal components of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) - fulfill several important functions in the central nervous system (CNS). They form an active interface between blood and neuronal tissue and play a key role in the maintenance of the homeostasis of the CNS. Infections caused by different pathogens are often associated with systemic symptoms and may compromise the functional integrity of the BBB as well. In the mediation of the systemic effect of pathogens Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play a significant role. TLRs are a type of pattern recognition receptor and recognize molecules that are broadly shared by pathogens but distinguishable from host molecules. TLRs are broadly distributed on cells of the immune system and function as primary sensors of invading pathogens. There is also growing experimental evidence indicating that Toll-like receptors are expressed on different non-immune cell types as well, like epithelial or endothelial cells. Here we demonstrate the expression of TLR2, TLR3, TLR4 and TLR6 on rat and human cerebral endothelial cells. Oxidative stress significantly upregulated the expression of these receptors whereas TNF-alpha upregulated the expression of TLR2 and TLR3. Furthermore we have shown, that activation of TLR2/6 leads to an increased permeability which is accompanied by a downregulation of occludin and claudin-5 expression and disappearance of these tight junction proteins from the cell membrane. Changes in occludin expression and localization could be inhibited by the ERK1/2 inhibitor U0126. Our results suggest a significant role of the cerebral endothelium in mediation of the neural effects of different inflammatory processes.
An integrated assay system involving dual/triple-probe microdialysis techniques in rats was developed earlier for testing interactions with P-glycoprotein (P-gp) at the blood-brain barrier using quinidine/PSC-833 as a P-gp substrate/inhibitor combination. The aim of the present study was to expand our assay system to mice using microdialysis with simultaneous sampling of blood and brain and to compare the result with a primary mouse brain endothelial cell monolayer (pMBMEC) assay. Brain penetration of quinidine was dose dependent in both anesthetized and awake mice after intraperitoneal drug administration. PSC-833 pretreatment caused a 2.5- to 3.4-fold increase in quinidine levels of brain dialysate samples in anesthetized or awake animals, after single or repeated administration of PSC-833. In pMBMEC, a 2.0- to 2.5-fold efflux ratio was observed in the transcellular transport of quinidine. The P-gp-mediated vectorial transport of quinidine was eliminated by PSC-833. These results indicate that quinidine with PSC-833 is a good probe substrate-reference inhibitor combination for testing drug-drug interactions with P-gp in the in vivo and in vitro mouse systems. With increasing number of humanized transgenic mice, a test system with mouse microdialysis experimentation becomes more important to predict drug-drug interactions in humans.
Previous studies have shown that modulation of the receptor-mediated cannabinoid system during neuroinflammation can produce potent neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects. However, in this context, little is known about how selective activation of the cannabinoid type-2 receptor (CB2R) affects the activated state of the brain endothelium and blood-brain barrier (BBB) function. Using human brain tissues and primary human brain microvascular endothelial cells (BMVECs), we demonstrate that the CB2R is highly upregulated during inflammatory insult. We then examined whether the CB2R agonists could attenuate inflammatory responses at the BBB using a mouse model of LPS-induced encephalitis and highly selective CB2R agonists. Visualization by intravital microscopy revealed that administration of JWH133 [(6aR,10aR)-3-(1,1-dimethylbutyl)-6a,7,10,10a-tetrahydro-6,6,9-trimethyl-6H-dibenzo[b,d]pyran] or a novel resorcinol-based compound, O-1966 (1-[4-(1,1-dimethyl-heptyl)-2,6-dimethoxy-phenyl]-3-methyl-cyclohexanol), greatly attenuated leukocyte adhesion in surface pial vessels and in deep ascending cortical postcapillary venules. BBB permeability assessments with small and large fluorescent tracers showed that CB2R agonists were effective at preventing barrier leakiness after LPS administration. To determine whether the effects by CB2R agonists on barrier protection are not only due to the CB2R modulation of immune cell function, we tested the agonists in vitro with barrier-forming primary BMVECs. Remarkably, the addition of CB2R agonist increased transendothelial electrical resistance and increased the amount of tight junction protein present in membrane fractions. Furthermore, CB2R agonists decreased the induction of intercellular adhesion molecule-1 and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 surface expression in BMVECs exposed to various proinflammatory mediators. Together, these results suggest that pharmacological CB2R ligands offer a new strategy for BBB protection during neuroinflammation.
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