Review Article | Published:

Development, maintenance and disruption of the blood-brain barrier

Nature Medicine volume 19, pages 15841596 (2013) | Download Citation

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Abstract

The interface between the blood circulation and the neural tissue features unique characteristics that are encompassed by the term 'blood-brain barrier' (BBB). The main functions of this barrier, namely maintenance of brain homeostasis, regulation of influx and efflux transport, and protection from harm, are determined by its specialized multicellular structure. Every constituent cell type makes an indispensable contribution to the BBB's integrity. But if one member of the BBB fails, and as a result the barrier breaks down, there can be dramatic consequences and neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration can occur. In this Review, we highlight recently gained mechanistic insights into the development and maintenance of the BBB. We then discuss how BBB disruption can cause or contribute to neurological disease. Finally, we examine how this knowledge can be used to explore new possibilities for BBB repair.

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Acknowledgements

R.M.R. is supported by US National Insititutes of Health grant R21 NS074820 and the Guthy Jackson Charitable Foundation. R.D. is supported by the Program for Breakthrough Biomedical Sciences and the American Heart Association. B.O. is supported by a two-year Research Fellowship from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

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Affiliations

  1. Neuroinflammation Research Center, Department of Neuroscience, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.

    • Birgit Obermeier
    •  & Richard M Ransohoff
  2. Department of Anatomy, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA.

    • Richard Daneman

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Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Richard M Ransohoff.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nm.3407