Building the blood-brain barrier

Oct 27, 2008

Construction of the brain's border fence is supervised by Wnt/b-catenin signaling, report Liebner et al. in The Journal of Cell Biology.

Like many a modern nation, the brain requires tight border security to maintain levels of nutrients and keep out toxic substances. The blood–brain barrier (BBB) is a virtually impermeable network of tight junctions between endothelial cells that prevents paracellular flow of materials. Because Wnt/b-catenin signaling is a major pathway regulating other aspects of brain development, the authors examined its potential role in constructing the BBB.

In brain endothelial cells, Wnt signaling was active during the time of maximum vascular development, but not after the BBB matured. Activation of the Wnt signaling pathway in vivo and in vitro promoted BBB development, and inactivation prevented it. In vitro increasing Wnt signaling also strengthened junctions between non-brain endothelial cells.

This suggests that Wnt signaling might be tweaked to mend the BBBs in patients where it has failed—such as in stroke—or to temporarily open the BBB to deliver drugs that would normally be shut out.

Citation: Liebner, S., et al. 2008. J. Cell Biol. doi:10.1083/jcb.200806024.

Source: Rockefeller University

Explore further: 3-D human skin maps aid study of relationships between molecules, microbes and environment

Related Stories

Dairy farms asked to consider breeding no-horn cows

6 hours ago

Food manufacturers and restaurants are taking the dairy industry by the horns on an animal welfare issue that's long bothered activists but is little known to consumers: the painful removal of budding horn ...

DARPA seeks new positioning, navigation, timing solutions

13 hours ago

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), writing about GPS, said: "The military relies heavily on the Global Positioning System (GPS) for positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT), but GPS access is easily blocked by methods such as jamming. In addition, many environments in which our mil ...

Recommended for you

'Google Maps' for the body: A biomedical revolution

14 hours ago

A world-first UNSW collaboration that uses previously top-secret technology to zoom through the human body down to the level of a single cell could be a game-changer for medicine, an international research ...

New compounds could offer therapy for multitude of diseases

15 hours ago

An international team of more than 18 research groups has demonstrated that the compounds they developed can safely prevent harmful protein aggregation in preliminary tests using animals. The findings raise hope that a new ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.