Cell and tissue research

Breakdown of the blood-brain barrier to proteins in white matter of the developing brain following systemic inflammation.

PMID 15846513


Compromised blood-brain barrier permeability resulting from systemic inflammation has been implicated as a possible cause of brain damage in fetuses and newborns and may underlie white matter damage later in life. Rats at postnatal day (P) 0, P8 and P20 and opossums (Monodelphis domestica) at P15, P20, P35, P50 and P60 and adults of both species were injected intraperitoneally with 0.2-10 mg/kg body weight of 055:B5 lipopolysaccharide. An acute-phase response occurred in all animals. A change in the permeability of the blood-brain barrier to plasma proteins during a restricted period of postnatal development in both species was determined immunocytochemically by the presence of proteins surrounding cerebral blood vessels and in brain parenchyma. Blood vessels in white matter, but not grey matter, became transiently permeable to proteins between 10 and 24 h after lipopolysaccharide injection in P0 and P8 rats and P35-P60 opossums. Brains of Monodelphis younger than P35, rats older than P20 and adults of both species were not affected. Permeability of the blood-cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) barrier to proteins was not affected by systemic inflammation for at least 48 h after intraperitoneal injection of lipopolysaccharide. These results show that there is a restricted period in brain development when the blood-brain barrier, but not the blood-CSF barrier, to proteins is susceptible to systemic inflammation; this does not appear to be attributable to barrier "immaturity" but to its stage of development and only occurs in white matter.