Neuron-glial interactions in blood-brain barrier formation

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations


The blood brain barrier (BBB) evolved to preserve the microenvironment of the highly excitable neuronal cells to allow for action potential generation and propagation. Intricate molecular interactions between two main cell types, the neurons and the glial cells, form the underlying basis of the critical functioning of the nervous system across species. In invertebrates, interactions between neurons and glial cells are central in establishing a functional BBB. However, in vertebrates, the BBB formation and function is coordinated by interactions between neurons, glial cells, and endothelial cells. Here we review the neuron-glial interaction-based blood barriers in invertebrates and vertebrates and provide an evolutionary perspective as to how a glial-barrier system in invertebrates evolved into an endothelial barrier system. We also summarize the clinical relevance of the BBB as this protective barrier becomes disadvantageous in the pharmacological treatment of various neurological disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-258
Number of pages24
JournalAnnual Review of Neuroscience
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Astrocytes
  • Drosophila
  • Endothelial cells
  • Neurovascular unit
  • Septate junctions
  • Tight junctions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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