Pericytes support neutrophil transmigration via interleukin-8 across a porcine co-culture model of the blood-brain barrier

Brain Res. 2013 Aug 2;1524:1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2013.05.047. Epub 2013 Jun 14.


Transmigration of neutrophils across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to an inflamed brain tissue is an important process during neuronal inflammation. The process of neutrophil activation as well as their way of rolling along the endothelium and their transmigration is quite well understood. Nevertheless, relatively little is known about the fate of neutrophils after they have transmigrated through the endothelium. The role of the other cells of the neurovascular unit in this process is also poorly understood. Here we studied the potential of pericytes to chemo-attract neutrophils under inflammatory conditions. Quantitative real time PCR, western blot analysis, and a chemotaxis assay showed that pericytes are able to chemo-attract neutrophils by interleukin-8 (IL-8) after stimulation with lipopolysaccharides (LPS), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), or interleukin-1beta (IL-1β). Then, a co-culture model consisting of primary porcine brain capillary endothelial cells (PBCECs) and primary porcine brain capillary pericytes (PBCPs) was used to analyze neutrophil transmigration across the BBB. As a model for inflammation, LPS was used and the effects of the cytokines TNF-α, IL-1β, and interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) were analyzed. In general, all stimulants apart from IFN-γ were able to increase transendothelial neutrophil migration. This effect was significantly reduced by a specific inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs)-2 and -9. MMP-2/-9 secretion is expected to decrease adhesion to pericytes and thus support the transmigration of neutrophils. Additionally, in an adhesion experiment, we showed that MMP-2/-9 inhibition significantly enhances the adhesion of neutrophils to pericytes.

Keywords: Blood–brain barrier; Co-culture; Inflammation; Matrix metalloproteinase; Neutrophil-migration; Pericyte.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / cytology
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / immunology
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Movement*
  • Coculture Techniques / methods*
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Interleukin-8 / metabolism*
  • Neutrophils / cytology*
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Pericytes / cytology*
  • Pericytes / immunology
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Swine
  • Transendothelial and Transepithelial Migration / physiology*


  • Interleukin-8