Blood-brain barrier in health and disease

Published on March 1, 2008 Reviewed on March 27, 2017   62 min

A selection of talks on Neurology

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Hello. My name is Dr. Thomas P. Davis, I'm a professor of medical pharmacology at the University of Arizona Medical School in Tucson, Arizona. The title of this presentation is The Blood Brain Barrier in Health and Disease. I'd like to first give
some historical background to blood brain barrier research which started in 1885 with Paul Ehrlich's notation that analine dyes injected intravenously stained all organs except the brain and spinal cord as shown in the figure below. Paul Ehrlich attributed this to an inability of the nervous tissue to take up the dye. It was in 1900 that Lewandowsky coined the term Bluthirnschranke or blood-brain-cabinet while studying the penetration of potassium ferrocyanide into the brain. It wasn't until 1913, an Ehrlich student, Edwin Goldman injected water soluble dyes directly into the central nervous system and showed the classic blood brain barrier separation between the central nervous system and the rest of the organism. The question that often comes up
when individuals want to study the blood brain barrier is why? What is unique about the blood brain barrier as compared to other barriers in the body? Well, the first thing that's unique is that the blood brain barrier provides a problem for drug delivery to the central nervous system. This has been a serious issue for thousands of years. The role of the blood brain barrier in a pathophysiology of central nervous system disease states continues to the present time. We now know that the brain is no longer immune privileged and that substances can enter and leave the brain. However, to get past the blood brain barrier with a drug or therapeutic has been a serious challenge. Therefore, understanding the anatomy and cell biology of the Neurovascular unit, which we now describe the blood brain barrier as part of, in health and disease is critical for the advancement of translational research into the clinic.