Cerebral endothelial cells - the principal components of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) - fulfill several important functions in the central nervous system (CNS). They form an active interface between blood and neuronal tissue and play a key role in the maintenance of the homeostasis of the CNS. Infections caused by different pathogens are often associated with systemic symptoms and may compromise the functional integrity of the BBB as well. In the mediation of the systemic effect of pathogens Toll-like receptors (TLRs) play a significant role. TLRs are a type of pattern recognition receptor and recognize molecules that are broadly shared by pathogens but distinguishable from host molecules. TLRs are broadly distributed on cells of the immune system and function as primary sensors of invading pathogens. There is also growing experimental evidence indicating that Toll-like receptors are expressed on different non-immune cell types as well, like epithelial or endothelial cells. Here we demonstrate the expression of TLR2, TLR3, TLR4 and TLR6 on rat and human cerebral endothelial cells. Oxidative stress significantly upregulated the expression of these receptors whereas TNF-alpha upregulated the expression of TLR2 and TLR3. Furthermore we have shown, that activation of TLR2/6 leads to an increased permeability which is accompanied by a downregulation of occludin and claudin-5 expression and disappearance of these tight junction proteins from the cell membrane. Changes in occludin expression and localization could be inhibited by the ERK1/2 inhibitor U0126. Our results suggest a significant role of the cerebral endothelium in mediation of the neural effects of different inflammatory processes.
Download Full PDF Version (Non-Commercial Use)