Blood-brain barrier

More than 100 years ago it was discovered that if blue dye was injected into the bloodstream of an animal, that tissues of the whole body except the brain and spinal cord would turn blue. To explain this, scientists thought that a "Blood-Brain-Barrier" (BBB) which prevents materials from the blood from entering the brain existed. The BBB is semi-permeable; that is, it allows some materials to cross, but prevents others from crossing. In most parts of the body, the smallest blood vessels, called capillaries, are lined with endothelial cells. Endothelial tissue has small spaces between each individual cell so substances can move readily between the inside and the outside of the vessel. However, in the brain, the endothelial cells fit tightly together and substances cannot pass out of the bloodstream.

The blood–brain barrier occurs along all capillaries and consists of tight junctions around the capillaries that do not exist in normal circulation. Endothelial cells restrict the diffusion of microscopic objects (e.g., bacteria) and large or hydrophilic molecules into thecerebrospinal fluid (CSF), while allowing the diffusion of small hydrophobic molecules (O2, CO2, hormones). Cells of the barrier actively transport metabolic products such as glucose across the barrier with specific proteins. This barrier also includes a thickbasement membrane and astrocytic endfeet

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