Protein expression of brain endothelial cell E-cadherin after hypoxia/aglycemia: Influence of astrocyte contact

Thomas J. Abbruscato, Thomas P. Davis

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80 Scopus citations


The blood-brain barrier (BBB) plays a crucial role in protecting the central nervous system (CNS) from any changes in homeostasis brought about by pathological conditions. Cerebrovascular permeability is an important factor in the development of cerebral edema following stroke [M. Plateel, E. Teissier, R. Cecchelli, Hypoxia, dramatically increases the nonspecific transport of blood-borne proteins to the brain. J. Neurochem. 68 (1997) 874- 877] and any changes in its function can have detrimental neurological consequences. Recently, research has shown that an in vitro model of the BBB is sensitive to short exposures of hypoxia/aglycemia and that changes in endothelial cell calcium flux may be responsible for structural and functional variations in the BBB during ischemic stress [T.J. Abbruscato, T.P. Davis, Combination of hypoxia/aglycemia compromises in vitro BBB. J. Pharmacol. Exp. Ther. 289 (1999) 668-675]. Present experiments investigated bovine brain microvessel endothelial cell (BBMEC) expression of a Ca2+- dependent cell-cell adhesion molecule, E-cadherin, which has been shown to be important for blood-brain barrier function [D. Pal, K.L. Audus, T.J. Siahaan, Modulation of cellular adhesion in bovine brain microvessel endothelial cells by a decapeptide. Brain Research 747 (1997) 103-113]. Since it is believed that astrocyte-endothelial cell interaction is crucial for maintenance of in vivo BBB characteristics, we have attempted to optimize our isolation and culturing techniques to produce a reliable, in vitro model of the BBB that is suitable to study pathological conditions. Immunofluorescence experiments showed positive staining for E-cadherin, yet failed to show any change in cellular distribution of E-cadherin upon hypoxic/aglycemic exposure. In addition, culturing BBMECs with C6 conditioned medium (CM) had no effect on the localization of E-cadherin. Western blotting experiments showed that BBMECs express E-cadherin and this protein is decreased in a time dependent manner after various hypoxic/aglycemic exposures when endothelial cells are cultured alone or with C6 astrogliomas grown on a separate culture surface. When C6 astrocytes are grown directly opposed to endothelial cells, with a porous membrane between, we observed a slight attenuation in the decreased BBMEC expression of E-Cadherin after hypoxia/aglycemia exposure. This work has shown that the mammalian brain endothelial/astrocyte co-culture system is a useful model for studies of pathological conditions where BBB characteristics are maintained.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-286
Number of pages10
JournalBrain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 25 1999


  • Blood-brain barrier (BBB)
  • Calcium-dependent cell adhesion
  • E-Cadherin
  • Hypoxia/aglycemia
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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