Disruption of the blood-brain barrier in experimental optic neuritis: immunocytochemical co-localization of H2O2 and extravasated serum albumin

Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 1994 Mar;35(3):1114-23.


Purpose: To probe the role of endogenous hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in the pathogenesis of disruption of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) associated with experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model for primary central nervous system demyelination.

Methods: Strain-13 guinea pigs were sensitized for EAE with central myelin in complete Freund's adjuvant. Magnetic resonance imaging with Gd-DTPA was performed twice a week for 2 weeks to assess disruption of the BBB, in vivo, by the enhancement of the optic nerves. Two weeks after antigenic sensitization, ultracytochemical localization of endogenous H2O2 was performed using the cerium perhydroxide method, with co-localization of endogenous serum albumin extravasation using gold-labeled antibodies against serum albumin. Examination of blood vessels for perivascular immunogold-labeled serum albumin and H2O2 derived reaction product began in the optic nerve head and proceeded toward the retrobulbar optic nerve until a total of 20 vessels were evaluated per animal.

Results: Magnetic resonance imaging revealed Gd-DTPA enhancement of the optic nerves in all animals sensitized for EAE. Optic nerve ultrastructure revealed colloidal gold-labeled antibodies against serum albumin in the perivascular and adjacent interstitial spaces of capillaries and small venules in which H2O2 derived cerium perhydroxide reaction product was also simultaneously evident. Immunogold-labeled serum albumin was predominantly confined to the intravascular compartment of the optic nerve in the absence of perivascular H2O2 and/or perivascular foci of inflammatory cells. The difference between the mean percentage of blood vessels (61.8%) with co-localization of perivascular immunogold-labeled serum albumin and cerium perhydroxide reaction product, to the mean percentage of blood vessels (9.5%) with perivascular immunogold-labeled serum albumin in the absence of cerium perhydroxide, was statistically significant (P = 0.0019).

Conclusions: Endogenous H2O2, found at the foci of BBB disruption, may be one of the mediators involved in the alteration of vascular permeability in experimental optic neuritis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier*
  • Capillary Permeability
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / etiology
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / metabolism
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / pathology
  • Female
  • Gadolinium DTPA
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / metabolism*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Immunoelectron
  • Optic Disk / metabolism
  • Optic Disk / ultrastructure
  • Optic Nerve / metabolism
  • Optic Nerve / pathology
  • Optic Neuritis / etiology
  • Optic Neuritis / metabolism*
  • Optic Neuritis / pathology
  • Organometallic Compounds
  • Pentetic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Serum Albumin / metabolism*


  • Organometallic Compounds
  • Serum Albumin
  • Pentetic Acid
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Gadolinium DTPA