Establishing Co-Culture Blood-Brain Barrier Models for Different Neurodegeneration Conditions to Understand Its Effect on BBB Integrity

J.S. Park, K. Choe, A. Khan, M.H. Jo, H.Y. Park, M.H. Kang, T.J. Park, M.O. Kim*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a functional interface that provides selective permeability, protection from toxic substances, transport of nutrients, and clearance of brain metabolites. Additionally, BBB disruption has been shown to play a role in many neurodegenerative conditions and diseases. Therefore, the aim of this study was to establish a functional, convenient, and efficient in vitro co-cultured BBB model that can be used for several physiological conditions related to BBB disruption. Mouse brain-derived endothelial (bEnd.3) and astrocyte (C8-D1A) cells were co-cultured on transwell membranes to establish an intact and functional in vitro model. The co-cultured model and its effects on different neurological diseases and stress conditions, including Alzheimer's disease (AD), neuroinflammation, and obesity, have been examined by transendothelial electrical resistance (TEER), fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) dextran, and tight junction protein analyses. Scanning electron microscope images showed evidence of astrocyte end-feet processes passing through the membrane of the transwell. Moreover, the co-cultured model showed effective barrier properties in the TEER, FITC, and solvent persistence and leakage tests when compared to the mono-cultured model. Additionally, the immunoblot results showed that the expression of tight junction proteins such as zonula occludens-1 (ZO-1), claudin-5, and occludin-1 was enhanced in the co-culture. Lastly, under disease conditions, the BBB structural and functional integrity was decreased. The present study demonstrated that the co-cultured in vitro model mimicked the BBB's structural and functional integrity and, under disease conditions, the co-cultured model showed similar BBB damages. Therefore, the present in vitro BBB model can be used as a convenient and efficient experimental tool to investigate a wide range of BBB-related pathological and physiological studies.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5283
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023


  • BBB
  • in vitro model
  • TEER
  • brain endothelial cells
  • astrocytes
  • tight junction proteins
  • neurodegenerative diseases
  • VIVO

Cite this