Advancements in modelling human blood brain-barrier on a chip

V. Guarino*, A. Zizzari, M. Bianco, G. Gigli, L. Moroni, V. Arima

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


The human Blood Brain Barrier (hBBB) is a complex cellular architecture separating the blood from the brain parenchyma. Its integrity and perfect functionality are essential for preventing neurotoxic plasma components and pathogens enter the brain. Although vital for preserving the correct brain activity, the low permeability of hBBB represents a huge impediment to treat mental and neurological disorders or to address brain tumors. Indeed, the vast majority of potential drug treatments are unable to reach the brain crossing the hBBB. On the other hand, hBBB integrity can be damaged or its permeability increase as a result of infections or in presence of neurodegenerative diseases. Current in vitro systems and in vivo animal models used to study the molecular/drug transport mechanism through the hBBB have several intrinsic limitations that are difficult to overcome. In this scenario, Organ-on-Chip (OoC) models based on microfluidic technologies are considered promising innovative platforms that combine the handiness of an in vitro model with the complexity of a living organ, while reducing time and costs. In this review, we focus on recent advances in OoCs for developing hBBB models, with the aim of providing the reader with a critical overview of the main guidelines to design and manufacture a hBBB-on-chip, whose compartments need to mimic the 'blood side' and 'brain side' of the barrier, to choose the cells types that are both representative and convenient, and to adequately evaluate the barrier integrity, stability, and functionality.
Original languageEnglish
Article number022003
Number of pages19
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023


  • blood brain barrier
  • organ-on-chip
  • in vitro models
  • microfluidics

Cite this