Morphologic effect of dimethyl sulfoxide on the blood-brain barrier

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Science  09 Jul 1982:
Vol. 217, Issue 4555, pp. 164-166
DOI: 10.1126/science.7089551


Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) opens the blood-brain barrier of mice to the enzymatic tracer horseradish peroxidase. A single injection of horseradish peroxidase in 10 to 15 percent DMSO into the tail vein along with 10 to 15 percent DMSO delivered intraperitoneally allowed horseradish peroxidase to fill the extracellular clefts throughout the brain within 2 hours. In the absence of DMSO, peroxidase failed to enter brain parenchyma except through the circumventricular organs. Opening of the blood-brain barrier by DMSO is reversible. Dimethyl sulfoxide stimulated the pinocytosis of horseradish peroxidase by the cerebral endothelium; the peroxidase was then directed to lysosomal dense bodies for degradation. Vesicular transport of horseradish peroxidase from the luminal to the abluminal wall of the endothelial cell was not observed. Dimethyl sulfoxide did not alter the morphology of endothelial cells or brain parenchyma.

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