How do immune cells overcome the blood-brain barrier in multiple sclerosis?

FEBS Lett. 2011 Dec 1;585(23):3770-80. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2011.04.066. Epub 2011 May 4.


The presence of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) restricts the movement of soluble mediators and leukocytes from the periphery to the central nervous system (CNS). Leukocyte entry into the CNS is nonetheless an early event in multiple sclerosis (MS), an inflammatory disorder of the CNS. Whether BBB dysfunction precedes immune cell infiltration or is the consequence of perivascular leukocyte accumulation remains enigmatic, but leukocyte migration modifies BBB permeability. Immune cells of MS subjects express inflammatory cytokines, reactive oxygen species (ROS) and enzymes that can facilitate their migration to the CNS by influencing BBB function, either directly or indirectly. In this review, we describe how immune cells from the peripheral blood overcome the BBB and promote CNS inflammation in MS through BBB disruption.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / immunology*
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / pathology
  • Cell Movement
  • Humans
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases / metabolism
  • Multiple Sclerosis / enzymology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis / pathology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Matrix Metalloproteinases