Coculture model of blood-brain barrier on electrospun nanofibers

Turk J Biol. 2020 Aug 19;44(4):121-132. doi: 10.3906/biy-1908-42. eCollection 2020.


The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a control mechanism that limits the diffusion of many substances to the central nervous system (CNS). In this study, we designed an in-vitro 3-dimensional BBB system to obtain a fast and reliable model to mimic drug delivery characteristics of the CNS. A support membrane of polycaprolactone nanofiber surfaces was prepared using electrospinning. After confirming the fiber morphology and size, endothelial cells (HUVEC) and glial cells were cultured on either side of this membrane. The model's similarity to in vivo physiology was tested with a home-designed transmembrane resistance (TR) device, with positive and negative control molecules. Finally, 2 doses of methotrexate (MTX), a chemotherapy agent, were applied to the model, and its permeability through the model was determined indirectly by a vitality test on the MCF-7 cell line. Nicotine, the positive control, completed its penetration through the model almost instantly, while albumin, the negative control, was blocked significantly even after 2 days. MTX reached a deadly threshold 24 h after application. The TR value of the model was promising, being around 260 ohm.cm2. The provided model proposes a disposable and reliable tool for investigating drug permeability through the BBB and has the potential to reduce the number of animal experiments.

Keywords: 3-dimensional cell culture; Blood–brain barrier; electrospinning; methotrexate; transmembrane resistance.