Journal of Molecular Medicine

, Volume 87, Issue 8, pp 765–774 | Cite as

Functions of lipid raft membrane microdomains at the blood–brain barrier

  • Aurore Dodelet-Devillers
  • Romain Cayrol
  • Jack van Horssen
  • Arsalan S. Haqqani
  • Helga E. de Vries
  • Britta Engelhardt
  • John Greenwood
  • Alexandre PratEmail author


The blood–brain barrier (BBB) is a highly specialized structural and functional component of the central nervous system that separates the circulating blood from the brain and spinal cord parenchyma. Brain endothelial cells (BECs) that primarily constitute the BBB are tightly interconnected by multiprotein complexes, the adherens junctions and the tight junctions, thereby creating a highly restrictive cellular barrier. Lipid-enriched membrane microdomain compartmentalization is an inherent property of BECs and allows for the apicobasal polarity of brain endothelium, temporal and spatial coordination of cell signaling events, and actin remodeling. In this manuscript, we review the role of membrane microdomains, in particular lipid rafts, in the BBB under physiological conditions and during leukocyte transmigration/diapedesis. Furthermore, we propose a classification of endothelial membrane microdomains based on their function, or at least on the function ascribed to the molecules included in such heterogeneous rafts: (1) rafts associated with interendothelial junctions and adhesion of BECs to basal lamina (scaffolding rafts); (2) rafts involved in immune cell adhesion and migration across brain endothelium (adhesion rafts); (3) rafts associated with transendothelial transport of nutrients and ions (transporter rafts).


Multiple sclerosis Leukocyte transmigration Neuroinflammation Tight junction Adherens junction Cell adhesion molecule Integrin 

Supplementary material

109_2009_488_MOESM1_ESM.doc (40 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 39 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aurore Dodelet-Devillers
    • 1
  • Romain Cayrol
    • 1
  • Jack van Horssen
    • 2
  • Arsalan S. Haqqani
    • 3
  • Helga E. de Vries
    • 2
  • Britta Engelhardt
    • 4
  • John Greenwood
    • 5
  • Alexandre Prat
    • 1
    • 6
    • 7
    Email author
  1. 1.Neuroimmunology Research Laboratory, Center of Excellence in Neuromics, CHUM-Notre-Dame Hospital, Faculty of MedicineUniversité de MontréalMontréalCanada
  2. 2.Department of Molecular Cell Biology and ImmunologyVU Medical CenterAmsterdamthe Netherlands
  3. 3.Institute for Biological SciencesNational Research CouncilOttawaCanada
  4. 4.Theodor Kocher InstituteUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland
  5. 5.Department of Cell Biology, Institute of OphthalmologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  6. 6.Multiple Sclerosis Clinic, Department of Neurology, Faculty of MedicineUniversité de Montréal, CHUM-Notre-Dame HospitalMontréalCanada
  7. 7.Center of Excellence in Neuromics, Neuroimmunology Research Laboratory, Y-3608CHUM-Hopital Notre-DameMontrealCanada

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