Regulation of the Blood-Brain Barrier by Circadian Rhythms and Sleep

Trends Neurosci. 2019 Jul;42(7):500-510. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2019.05.001.


The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is an evolutionarily conserved, structural, and functional separation between circulating blood and the central nervous system (CNS). By controlling permeability into and out of the nervous system, the BBB has a critical role in the precise regulation of neural processes. Here, we review recent studies demonstrating that permeability at the BBB is dynamically controlled by circadian rhythms and sleep. An endogenous circadian rhythm in the BBB controls transporter function, regulating permeability across the BBB. In addition, sleep promotes the clearance of metabolites along the BBB, as well as endocytosis across the BBB. Finally, we highlight the implications of this regulation for diseases, including epilepsy.

Keywords: Drosophila; Pgp transporters; chronotherapy; endocytosis; epilepsy; permeability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / physiology*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Capillary Permeability / physiology
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Endocytosis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Sleep / physiology*