Inhibition of HSP90 Preserves Blood–Brain Barrier Integrity after Cortical Spreading Depression

Seph M. Palomino, Aidan A. Levine, Jared Wahl, Erika Liktor-Busa, John M. Streicher, Tally M. Largent-Milnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cortical spreading depression (CSD) is a pathophysiological mechanism underlying headache disorders, including migraine. Blood–brain barrier (BBB) permeability is increased during CSD. Recent papers have suggested that heat shock proteins (HSP) contribute to the integrity of the blood–brain barrier. In this study, the possible role of HSP90 in CSD-associated blood–brain barrier leak at the endothelial cell was investigated using an in vitro model, for the blood–endothelial barrier (BEB), and an in vivo model with an intact BBB. We measured barrier integrity using trans endothelial electric resistance (TEER) across a monolayer of rodent brain endothelial cells (bEnd.3), a sucrose uptake assay, and in situ brain perfusion using female Sprague Dawley rats. CSD was induced by application of 60 mM KCl for 5 min in in vitro experiments or cortical injection of KCl (1 M, 0.5 µL) through a dural cannula in vivo. HSP90 was selectively blocked by 17-AAG. Our data showed that preincubation with 17-AAG (1 µM) prevented the reduction of TEER values caused by the KCl pulse on the monolayer of bEnd.3 cells. The elevated uptake of 14C-sucrose across the same endothelial monolayer induced by the KCl pulse was significantly reduced after preincubation with HSP90 inhibitor. Pre-exposure to 17-AAG significantly mitigated the transient BBB leak after CSD induced by cortical KCl injection as determined by in situ brain perfusion in female rats. Our results demonstrated that inhibition of HSP90 with the selective agent 17-AAG reduced CSD-associated BEB/BBB paracellular leak. Overall, this novel observation supports HSP90 inhibition mitigates KCl-induced BBB permeability and suggests the development of new therapeutic approaches targeting HSP90 in headache disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1665
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • 17-AAG
  • blood–brain barrier
  • blood–endothelial barrier
  • cortical spreading depression
  • heat shock protein 90
  • in situ brain perfusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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