Biochemical and biophysical research communications

Oxygen tension regulates the maturation of the blood-brain barrier.

PMID 11779173


The oxygen tension during the development of vascular systems influences vascular vessel formation through regulating angiogenesis. We studied the effect of hypoxia/reoxygenation (H/R) to explain its role in concert with astrocytes involvement in the development of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). On the basis of the fact that the disappearance of hypoxic regions and the decreased expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) were observed by immunohistochemistry in a development-dependent manner in rat cerebral cortex, we examined the effects of astrocytes on the BBB-like properties of ECV304 cells by exposing astrocytes to H/R. Conditioned medium of reoxygenated astrocytes inhibited [(3)H]thymidine incorporation and tube formation of ECV 304 cells. When astrocytes were exposed to reoxygenation, the expression of VEGF was reduced, whereas the expression of angiopoietin-1 and thrombospondin-1 was enhanced. Moreover, [(3)H]sucrose permeability assay revealed that astrocytes enhance the barrier function of ECV 304 cells in coculture model within 5 h of reoxygenation. Correspondingly, the occludin expression of ECV 304 cells was slightly increased by the conditioned medium of reoxygenated astrocytes. In conclusion, our study suggests that reoxygenation of astrocytes may act as a significant driving force for the maturation of the BBB during brain development through oxygen-regulated gene(s).