, Volume 30, Issue 9, pp 581-588

Growth of brain microvessel endothelial cells on collagen gels: Applications to the study of blood-brain barrier physiology and CNS inflammation

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Summary

Brain microvessel endothelial cells (BMEC) exhibit the tendency to migrate through 3.0-vm pore semipermeable inserts and establish monolayers on both apical and basal filter surfaces. This can potentially lead to complications in accurately assessing a wide variety of physiologic parameters uniquely associated with these cells. To avoid this problem, we have explored growing BMEC on Transwell filters coated with hydrated collagen gels. BMEC seeded on such gels grow as a monolayer until confluency, but do not invade the subendothelial collagen matrix or the underlying support filter. Furthermore, BMEC grown in this manner exhibit biochemical, morphologic, and electrophysiologic properties reflective of the endothelial cells that comprise the blood-brain barrier in vivo. Although the collagen gel acts as an impenetrable barrier to BMEC, and thus ensures the growth of only a single layer of cells, it nevertheless can be infiltrated by monocytes that have been stimulated by a chemotaxin to undergo diapedesis. Thus, growing BMEC on collagen gel-coated Transwells has broad applications for the in vitro study of both blood-brain barrier physiology as well as the mechanisms underlying central nervous system inflammation.