Mechanobiological Mechanisms Involved in the Regualation of the Blood-Brain Barrier by Fluid Shear Force

DU Lingyu, XU Bowen, CHENG Lin, YUE Hongyan, ZHANG Huaiyi, SHEN Yang


To explore the mechanobiological mechanism of fluid shear force (FSF) on the protection, injury, and destruction of the structure and function of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) under normal physiological conditions, ischemic hypoperfusion, and postoperative hyperperfusion conditions. BBB is mainly composed of brain microvascular endothelial cells. Rat brain microvascular endothelial cells (rBMECs) were used as model cells to conduct the investigation.Methods rBMECs were seeded at a density of 1×105 cells/cm2 and incubated for 48 h. FSF was applied to the rBMECs at 0.5, 2, and 20 dyn/cm2, respectively, simulating the stress BBB incurs under low perfusion, normal physiological conditions, and high FSF after bypass grafting when there is cerebral vascular stenosis. In addition, a rBMECs static culture group was set up as the control (no force was applied). Light microscope, scanning electron microscope (SEM), and laser confocal microscope (LSCM) were used to observe the changes in cell morphology and cytoskeleton. Transmission electron microscope (TEM) was used to observe the tight junctions. Immunofluorescence assay was performed to determine changes in the distribution of tight junction-associated proteins claudin-5, occludin, and ZO-1 and adherens junction-associated proteins VE-cadherin and PECAM-1. Western blot was performed to determine the expression levels of tight junction-associated proteins claudin-5, ZO-1, and JAM4, adherens junction-associated protein VE-cadherin, and key proteins in Rho GTPases signaling (Rac1, Cdc42, and RhoA) under FSF at different intensities.Results Microscopic observation showed that the cytoskeleton exhibited disorderly arrangement and irregular orientation under static culture and low shear force (0.5 dyn/cm2). Under normal physiological shear force (2 dyn/cm2), the cytoskeleton was rearranged in the orientation of the FSF and an effective tight junction structure was observed between cells. Under high shear force (20 dyn/cm2), the intercellular space was enlarged and no effective tight junction structure was observed. Immunofluorescence results showed that, under low shear force, the gap between the cells decreased, but there was also decreased distribution of tight junction-associated proteins and adherens junction-associated proteins at the intercellular junctions. Under normal physiological conditions, the cells were tightly connected and most of the tight junction-associated proteins were concentrated at the intercellular junctions. Under high shear force, the gap between the cells increased significantly and the tight junction and adherens junction structures were disrupted. According to the Western blot results, under low shear force, the expression levels of claudin-5, ZO-1, and VE-cadherin were significantly up-regulated compared with those of the control group (P<0.05). Under normal physiological shear force, claudin-5, ZO-1, JAM4, and VE-cadherin were highly expressed compared with those of the control group (P<0.05). Under high shear force, the expressions of claudin-5, ZO-1, JAM4, and VE-cadherin were significantly down-regulated compared with those of the normal physiological shear force group (P<0.05). Under normal physiological shear force, intercellular expressions of Rho GTPases proteins (Rac1, Cdc42, and RhoA) were up-regulated and were higher than those of the other experimental groups (P<0.05). The expressions of Rho GTPases under low and high shear forces were down-regulated compared with that of the normal physiological shear force group (P<0.05).Conclusion Under normal physiological conditions, FSF helps maintain the integrity of the BBB structure, while low or high shear force can damage or destroy the BBB structure. The regulation of BBB by FSF is closely related to the expression and distribution of tight junction-associated proteins and adherens junction-associated proteins.

Keywords: Blood-brain barrier,  Fluid shear force, Rat brain microvascular endothelial cells,  Tight junction-associated proteins,  Adherens junction-associated proteins  

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