Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology

, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 74–94 | Cite as

Mechanisms of Dendritic Cell Trafficking Across the Blood–brain Barrier

  • Divya Sagar
  • Catherine Foss
  • Rasha El Baz
  • Martin G. Pomper
  • Zafar K. Khan
  • Pooja JainEmail author


Although the central nervous system (CNS) is considered to be an immunoprivileged site, it is susceptible to a host of autoimmune as well as neuroinflammatory disorders owing to recruitment of immune cells across the blood–brain barrier into perivascular and parenchymal spaces. Dendritic cells (DCs), which are involved in both primary and secondary immune responses, are the most potent immune cells in terms of antigen uptake and processing as well as presentation to T cells. In light of the emerging importance of DC traficking into the CNS, these cells represent good candidates for targeted immunotherapy against various neuroinflammatory diseases. This review focuses on potential physiological events and receptor interactions between DCs and the microvascular endothelial cells of the brain as they transmigrate into the CNS during degeneration and injury. A clear understanding of the underlying mechanisms involved in DC migration may advance the development of new therapies that manipulate these mechanistic properties via pharmacologic intervention. Furthermore, therapeutic validation should be in concurrence with the molecular imaging techniques that can detect migration of these cells in vivo. Since the use of noninvasive methods to image migration of DCs into CNS has barely been explored, we highlighted potential molecular imaging techniques to achieve this goal. Overall, information provided will bring this important leukocyte population to the forefront as key players in the immune cascade in the light of the emerging contribution of DCs to CNS health and disease.


Dendritic cell trafficking Lectins and integrins Blood–brain barrier Molecular imaging Neuroinflammation Microvascular endothelial cells 



antigen presenting cell


dendritic cell


central nervous system


cervical lymph node


cerebrospinal fluid


blood-brain barrier


extracellular matrix


experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis


ferrimagnetic iron oxide nanocubes


high endothelial venule


HIV encephalopathy


herpes simplex virus-1


intracellular cell adhesion molecule






junctional adhesion molecule


lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus


lymphocyte function-associated antigen


monocyte chemotactic protein


macrophage inflammatory protein


microvascular endothelial cell


multiple sclerosis


magnetic resonance imaging


near infrared


platelet endothelial cell adhesion molecule


positron emission tomography




P-selectin glycoprotein ligand


regulated upon activation, normal T-cell expressed and secreted


spinal cord injury


stromal-derived factor-1


sulfoglucuronosyl paragloboside


single photon emission computed tomography


tight junction


tumor necrosis factor-α


vascular cell adhesion molecule


very late antigen


zona occludens



Authors wish to acknowledge United States Public Health Service/National Institutes of Health grants R01 AI077414 to PJ and R21 AI 093172–01 to ZKK.

Authors declare no conflict of interest


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Divya Sagar
    • 1
  • Catherine Foss
    • 2
  • Rasha El Baz
    • 1
  • Martin G. Pomper
    • 2
  • Zafar K. Khan
    • 1
  • Pooja Jain
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Drexel Institute for Biotechnology and Virology Research, and Department of Microbiology and ImmunologyDrexel University College of MedicinePhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Radiology and Radiological SciencesJohns Hopkins Medical InstitutionsBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Department of Microbiology & Immunology, Drexel Institute for Biotechnology & Virology ResearchDrexel University College of MedicineDoylestownUSA

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