Blood-neural barrier: its diversity and coordinated cell-to-cell communication

BMB Rep. 2008 May 31;41(5):345-52. doi: 10.5483/bmbrep.2008.41.5.345.


The cerebral microvessels possess barrier characteristics which are tightly sealed excluding many toxic substances and protecting neural tissues. The specialized blood-neural barriers as well as the cerebral microvascular barrier are recognized in the retina, inner ear, spinal cord, and cerebrospinal fluid. Microvascular endothelial cells in the brain closely interact with other components such as astrocytes, pericytes, perivascular microglia and neurons to form functional 'neurovascular unit'. Communication between endothelial cells and other surrounding cells enhances the barrier functions, consequently resulting in maintenance and elaboration of proper brain homeostasis. Furthermore, the disruption of the neurovascular unit is closely involved in cerebrovascular disorders. In this review, we focus on the location and function of these various blood-neural barriers, and the importance of the cell-to-cell communication for development and maintenance of the barrier integrity at the neurovascular unit. We also demonstrate the close relation between the alteration of the blood-neural barriers and cerebrovascular disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / cytology
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / physiology*
  • Blood-Nerve Barrier / cytology
  • Blood-Nerve Barrier / metabolism
  • Blood-Nerve Barrier / physiology*
  • Cardiovascular System / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular System / pathology
  • Cardiovascular System / physiopathology
  • Cell Communication / physiology*
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / metabolism
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / pathology
  • Cerebrovascular Disorders / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological