Research Article| Volume 64, ISSUE 3, P245-258, June 1984

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Heterogeneous models for blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier permeability to serum proteins in normal and abnormal cerebrospinal fluid/serum protein concentration gradients

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      Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)/serum concentration gradients (Q) of individual proteins (albumin, IgG, α2-macroglobulin) have been studied in controls and in patients in whom the lumbar CSF flow is altered (medullary compression) or the blood-CSF barrier (BCB) function impaired (acute idiopathic polyneuropathy and acute meningoencephalitis). The analysis of relationships among protein Q has been performed by total and multiple regressions and the actual BCB permeability to individual proteins has been interpreted according to the accepted theoretical porous or vesicular BCB models. The exponential Q-IgG vs. Q-albumin total regression, and the poor Q-α2-macroglobulin vs. Q-albumin regression found in controls, together with the different multiple regressions among proteins and the high Q-IgG vs. Q-albumin partial regression coefficients found in medullary compression, acute idiopathic polyneuropathy and acute meningoencephalitis, indicated that different permeability mechanisms can be postulated. Heterogeneous, fairly independent permeability BCB mechanisms maintain the normal CSFZ/serum protein concentration gradient. Pinocytotic vesicles or pores of radius exceeding 1000–1500 Å, probably located at the capillary endothelium, account for the main serum-derived CSF protein fraction(s) with large hydrodynamic radius (R). A more selective endothelial vesicular transport with a radius of 250 Å transfers a negligible amount of protein from serum into CSF. Proteins with small R also enter the CSF through a set of selective pores of radius 120 Å, probably at the level of the choroidal epithelium. Pinocytotic vesicles with a radius of 250 Å and increased rate of formation induce the accumulation of proteins below an obstruction of lumbar CSF flow. An increased formation rate of vesicles with a radius of 450 Å can explain the increased capillary permeability in nerve roots in acute idiopathic polyneuropathy. Loss of selectivity was the main feature of BCB in acute meningoencephalitis, and it seemed to be due to pores or vesicles with a radius larger than 1000–1500 Å. The heterogeneity of BCB mechanisms must be taken into account when the intrathecal synthesis of a protein, also derived from serum (for example IgG), has to be measured.


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