Acceleration of blood-brain barrier formation after transplantation of enteric glia into spinal cords of rats
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Enteric glia share morphological, biochemical, and functional properties with astrocytes. Thus, like astrocytes, transplantation of enteric glia into the central nervous system (CNS) might facilitate the development of the characteristics of the blood brain barrier (BBB) in endothelial cells. This study explored this possibility by examining barrier formation after implantation into the spinal cord of rats. Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutin (PHAL)-treated enteric glia suspensions were injected into the spinal cord at the T11-T12 level of adult Wistar female rats. Control animals were injected with either 3T3 fibroblast, glioma C6 cells, or culture medium. Evan's blue, a dye excluded by the BBB, was injected intravenously from 1 week to 2 months after implantation. Leakage of dye was determined macroscopically and the ultrastructure of the capillaries was examined. During the first week leakage of dye correlated ultrastructurally with predominantly non-overlapping endothelial cell junctions, even with clefts between adjacent cells. Tight junctions were fully formed by 2 months and no dye leaked. Electron microscopic analysis showed that enteric glia had end-feet in close contact with endothelial cells. In contrast, the injection sites in all control animals leaked dye until 2 months, and most of the tight junctions that did form were incomplete. Furthermore, most 3T3 or C6 control cells had died at 2 months and those that survived, unlike enteric glia, had no anatomical relationship to blood vessels. These data demonstrate that implantation of enteric glia accelerates the formation of the characteristics of the BBB in spinal cord capillaries.
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