The pathogenesis of neuropsychiatric lupus (NPSLE) is believed to include the entry of circulating neuropathic antibodies to the brain via a pathologically permeable blood-brain barrier (BBB). Nevertheless, direct evidence of BBB pathology or mechanisms underlying BBB dysfunction is missing. Here, we examined BBB integrity in an established NPSLE mouse model (MRL/faslpr/lpr). Surprisingly, challenging the barrier with various exogenous tracers demonstrated insignificant changes in BBB permeability. Furthermore, electron microscopy showed no ultrastructure changes supporting hyper-permeability. However, we found that abnormal function of the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier (BCSFB) in the choroid plexus underlies brain exposure to neuropathic antibodies. Considerable intrathecal lymphocyte infiltration likely occurs through the BCSFB, accompanied by epithelial hyper-permeability to antibodies. Our results challenge the commonly held view of BBB disruption in NPSLE, supporting a shift in focus to BCSFB dysfunction as a causative factor in the disease.
Keywords: Autoantibodies; Blood-CSF barrier (BCSFB); Blood-brain barrier (BBB); Choroid plexus (CP); Lupus; Neuropsychiatric-lupus (NPSLE).
Copyright © 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.