Neocortical transplants in the mammalian brain lack a blood-brain barrier to macromolecules

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Science  13 Feb 1987:
Vol. 235, Issue 4790, pp. 772-774
DOI: 10.1126/science.2433767


In order to determine whether the blood-brain barrier was present in transplants of central nervous tissue, fetal neocortex, which already possesses blood-brain and blood-cerebrospinal fluid barriers to protein, was grafted into the undamaged fourth ventricle or directly into the neocortex of recipient rats. Horseradish peroxidase or a conjugated human immunoglobulin G-peroxidase molecule was systemically administered into the host. These proteins were detected within the cortical transplants within 2 minutes regardless of the age of the donor or postoperative time. At later times these compounds, which normally do not cross the blood-brain barrier, inundated the grafts and adjacent host brain and also entered the cerebrospinal fluid. Endogenous serum albumin detected immunocytochemically in untreated hosts had a comparable although less extensive distribution. Thus, transplants of fetal central nervous tissue have permanent barrier dysfunction, probably due to microvascular changes, and are not integrated physiologically within the host. Blood-borne compounds, either systemically administered or naturally occurring, which should never contact normal brain tissue, have direct access to these transplants and might affect neuronal function.