The influence of cytokines on the integrity of the blood-brain barrier in vitro

J Neuroimmunol. 1996 Jan;64(1):37-43. doi: 10.1016/0165-5728(95)00148-4.


The effects of the cytokines tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin (IL)-1 beta and IL-6 on the permeability of monolayers of rat cerebral endothelial cells (RCEC) were investigated to assess potential changes in the integrity of the blood-brain barrier (BBB). RCEC were cultured to tight monolayers with a trans endothelial electrical resistance (TEER) of 100-150 ohm . cm2 on polycarbonate filters. Exposure of the RCEC to TNF-alpha, IL-1 beta and IL-6 induced a decline in the TEER, which could be completely abolished by 1 muM of indomethacin, a cyclooxygenase inhibitor. In addition, the effect of IL-1 beta on TEER across monolayers of RCEC could be completely inhibited by IL-1 receptor antagonist. In conclusion, cytokines induce a disruption of the BBB in vitro. In this process, cyclooxygenase activation within the endothelial cells seems to play a key role.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / drug effects*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / pharmacology*
  • Interleukin-1 / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-6 / pharmacology
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases / physiology
  • Rats
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-1
  • Interleukin-6
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Prostaglandin-Endoperoxide Synthases