Molecular anatomy and functions of the choroidal blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier in health and disease

Acta Neuropathol. 2018 Mar;135(3):337-361. doi: 10.1007/s00401-018-1807-1. Epub 2018 Jan 24.


The barrier between the blood and the ventricular cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is located at the choroid plexuses. At the interface between two circulating fluids, these richly vascularized veil-like structures display a peculiar morphology explained by their developmental origin, and fulfill several functions essential for CNS homeostasis. They form a neuroprotective barrier preventing the accumulation of noxious compounds into the CSF and brain, and secrete CSF, which participates in the maintenance of a stable CNS internal environment. The CSF circulation plays an important role in volume transmission within the developing and adult brain, and CSF compartments are key to the immune surveillance of the CNS. In these contexts, the choroid plexuses are an important source of biologically active molecules involved in brain development, stem cell proliferation and differentiation, and brain repair. By sensing both physiological changes in brain homeostasis and peripheral or central insults such as inflammation, they also act as sentinels for the CNS. Finally, their role in the control of immune cell traffic between the blood and the CSF confers on the choroid plexuses a function in neuroimmune regulation and implicates them in neuroinflammation. The choroid plexuses, therefore, deserve more attention while investigating the pathophysiology of CNS diseases and related comorbidities.

Keywords: Blood-brain barrier; Blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier; Brain development; Choroid plexus; Inflammation; Lymphocyte; Stem cell; Tight junction; Transporters.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / anatomy & histology*
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism*
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / pathology
  • Cerebral Ventricles / anatomy & histology*
  • Cerebral Ventricles / metabolism*
  • Cerebral Ventricles / pathology
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neuroprotection / physiology