The blood-brain barrier in brain homeostasis and neurological diseases

Biochim Biophys Acta. 2009 Apr;1788(4):842-57. doi: 10.1016/j.bbamem.2008.10.022. Epub 2008 Nov 11.


Brain endothelial cells are unique among endothelial cells in that they express apical junctional complexes, including tight junctions, which quite resemble epithelial tight junctions both structurally and functionally. They form the blood-brain-barrier (BBB) which strictly controls the exchanges between the blood and the brain compartments by limiting passive diffusion of blood-borne solutes while actively transporting nutrients to the brain. Accumulating experimental and clinical evidence indicate that BBB dysfunctions are associated with a number of serious CNS diseases with important social impacts, such as multiple sclerosis, stroke, brain tumors, epilepsy or Alzheimer's disease. This review will focus on the implication of brain endothelial tight junctions in BBB architecture and physiology, will discuss the consequences of BBB dysfunction in these CNS diseases and will present some therapeutic strategies for drug delivery to the brain across the BBB.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood-Brain Barrier / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Endothelial Cells / physiology
  • Endothelial Cells / ultrastructure
  • Homeostasis*
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes / physiology
  • Meningitis, Bacterial / physiopathology
  • Meningitis, Viral / physiopathology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / physiopathology
  • Nervous System Diseases / drug therapy
  • Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / physiopathology
  • Permeability
  • Stroke / physiopathology
  • Tight Junctions / physiology*