Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 18714030
J. Immunol. 2008 Sep;181(5):3567-74
Inflammatory cell trafficking into the brain complicates several neurological disorders including multiple sclerosis. Normally, reliable brain functioning is maintained and controlled by the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which is essential to restrict the entry of potentially harmful molecules and cells from the blood into the brain. The BBB is a selective barrier formed by dedicated brain endothelial cells and dependent on the presence of intracellular tight junctions. In multiple sclerosis, a severe dysfunction of the BBB is observed, which is key to monocyte infiltration and inflammation in the brain. Proteolytic activity has been associated with these inflammatory processes in the brain. Our studies in plasma of rats indicated that the extracellular protease tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) correlates with the clinical signs of experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, a rat model of multiple sclerosis. In this study, we studied the function of the tPA during diapedesis of monocytes through a rat and human brain endothelial barrier. Monocyte-brain endothelial cell coculture experiments showed that monocytes induce the release of tPA by brain endothelial cells, which subsequently activates the signal transduction protein extracellular signal related kinase (ERK1/2), both involved in monocyte diapedesis. Importantly, live imaging and immunoblot analyses of rat brain endothelial cells revealed that tPA and ERK1/2 control the breakdown of the tight junction protein occludin. These studies identify tPA as a novel and relevant pathological mediator of neuroinflammation and provide a potential mechanism for this.