Maintaining blood-brain barrier integrity: Pericytes perform better than astrocytes during prolonged oxygen deprivation

Permanent URL to this publication:

Al Ahmad, A; Gassmann, M; Ogunshola, O O (2008). Maintaining blood-brain barrier integrity: Pericytes perform better than astrocytes during prolonged oxygen deprivation. Journal of Cellular Physiology, 218(3):612-622.

[img]Accepted Version
PDF - Registered users only
View at publisher


The blood-brain barrier (BBB), consisting of specialized endothelial cells surrounded by astrocytes and pericytes, plays a crucial role in brain homeostasis. Many cerebrovascular diseases are associated with BBB breakdown and oxygen (O(2)) deprivation constitutes a critical factor that onsets its disruption. We investigated the impact of astrocytes and pericytes on brain endothelial cell permeability and survival during different degrees of O(2) deprivation. Prolonged exposure to 1% O(2) caused barrier breakdown and exposure to 0.1% O(2) dramatically accelerated disruption and induced cell death, mediated at least in part via caspase-3 activation. Reoxygenation allowed only cells exposed to 1% O(2) to re-establish barrier function. Notably co-culture with astrocytes and pericytes substantially enhanced barrier function under normoxic conditions, and produced differential responses during O(2) deprivation. At 1% O(2) astrocytes partially maintained barrier integrity whereas pericytes accelerated its disruption in the short-term, having positive effects only after prolonged exposure. Unexpectedly, at 0.1% O(2) pericytes were more effective than astrocytes in preserving barrier function although the protection afforded by both cells involved inhibition of caspase-3 pathways. Furthermore, cell-specific regulation of auto- and paracrine VEGF signaling pathways were also in part responsible for the differential modulation of barrier function. Our data suggests that cellular cross-talk within the neurovascular unit is crucial for preservation of barrier integrity and that pericytes, not astrocytes, play a significant role during severe and prolonged O(2) deprivation.


34 citations in Web of Science®
46 citations in Scopus®
Google Scholar™



4 downloads since deposited on 24 Nov 2008
0 downloads since 12 months

Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Institute of Veterinary Physiology
04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Integrative Human Physiology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Date:17 November 2008
Deposited On:24 Nov 2008 07:40
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:35
Publisher DOI:10.1002/jcp.21638
PubMed ID:19016245

Users (please log in): suggest update or correction for this item

Repository Staff Only: item control page