A novel 4-cell in-vitro blood-brain barrier model and its characterization by confocal microscopy and TEER measurement

Johid R. Malik, Courtney V. Fletcher, Anthony T. Podany, Shetty Ravi Dyavar, Kimberly K. Scarsi, Gwendolyn M. Pais, Marc H. Scheetz, Sean N. Avedissian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a protective cellular anatomical layer with a dynamic micro-environment, tightly regulating the transport of materials across it. To achieve in-vivo characteristics, an in-vitro BBB model requires the constituent cell types to be layered in an appropriate order. A cost-effective in-vitro BBB model is desired to facilitate central nervous system (CNS) drug penetration studies. Enhanced integrity of tight junctions observed during the in-vitro BBB establishment and post-experiment is essential in these models. We successfully developed an in-vitro BBB model mimicking the in-vivo cell composition and a distinct order of seeding primary human brain cells. Unlike other in-vitro BBB models, our work avoids the need for pre-coated plates for cell adhesion and provides better cell visualization during the procedure. We found that using bovine collagen-I coating, followed by bovine fibronectin coating and poly-L-lysine coating, yields better adhesion and layering of cells on the transwell membrane compared to earlier reported use of collagen and poly-L-lysine only. Our results indicated better cell visibility and imaging with the polyester transwell membrane as well as point to a higher and more stable Trans Endothelial Electrical Resistance values in this plate. In addition, we found that the addition of zinc induced higher claudin 5 expressions in neuronal cells. Dolutegravir, a drug used in the treatment of HIV, is known to appear in moderate concentrations in the CNS. Thus, dolutegravir was used to assess the functionality of the final model and cells. Using primary cells and an in-house coating strategy substantially reduces costs and provides superior imaging of cells and their tight junction protein expression. Our 4-cell-based BBB model is a suitable experimental model for the drug screening process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109867
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
StatePublished - May 15 2023


  • Blood-brain-barrier
  • Central nervous system
  • In-vitro model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'A novel 4-cell in-vitro blood-brain barrier model and its characterization by confocal microscopy and TEER measurement'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this