Acta Neuropathologica

, Volume 73, Issue 1, pp 53–61 | Cite as

The leakage of serum proteins across the blood-nerve barrier in hereditary and inflammatory neuropathies

An immunohistochemical and morphometric study
  • E. Neuen
  • R. J. Seitz
  • M. Langenbach
  • W. Wechsler
Regular Papers


The leakage of eight different serum proteins and immunoglobulins across the blood-nerve barrier (BNB) was studied by means of the peroxidase-antiperoxidase method in hereditary and inflammatory neuropathies and graded semiquantitatively with respect to endoneurial staining intensity and distribution. These data were compared with the degree of alterations of the myelinated nerve fibre population evaluated by morphometric analysis. Our series of 18 human sural nerve biopsies included seven hereditary neuropathies (three HMSN I, two HMSN II, two tomaculous neuropathies), nine inflammatory neuropathies (seven polyneuritis, two hypertrophic neuritis) and two normal controls. In HMSN II and in tomaculous neuropathy there was no enhanced endoneurial staining for serum proteins despite of a severe nerve fibre loss, whereas in HMSN I a rise of serum proteins of small and moderate molecular size like albumin and IgG was demonstrated in the endoneurial space indicating an impaired BNB function. Qualitative changes of the BNB with leakage also of high molecular weight proteins were observed in polyneuritis and hypertrophic neuritis, irrespective of the degree of nerve fibre changes. Our results show that fibre loss and alteration of the BNB are not correlated. The unselective leakage of serum proteins through the BNB appears to be a characteristic change in inflammatory neuropathies leading to proteinous edema. With regard to the subperineurial accentuation of the endoneurial edema it will be discussed that the vascular diffusion barrier is more fragile than the perineurial diffusion barrier.

Key words

Blood-nerve barrier Hereditary neuropathies Inflammatory neuropathies Immunohistochemistry Morphometric analysis 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Neuen
    • 1
  • R. J. Seitz
    • 2
  • M. Langenbach
    • 1
  • W. Wechsler
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of NeuropathologyUniversity of DüsseldorfDüsseldorfFederal Republic of Germany
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyUniversity of DüsseldorfDüsseldorfFederal Republic of Germany

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