Interferon β-1a prevents the effects of lipopolysaccharide on embryonic brain microvessels

Beatrice Nico, Fabio Quondamatteo, Rainer Herken, Torsten Blumchen, Gianni Defazio, Maurizio Giorelli, Paolo Livrea, Andrea Marzullo, Giangiuseppe Russo, Domenico Ribatti, Luisa Roncali

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By means of light and electron microscopy we have studied the effect of interferon β-1a (IFNβ-1a) in the optic tecta of 20-day-old chick embryos under normal conditions and after exposure to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) which mimics the blood-brain barrier (BBB) disruption in meningoencephalitis. Optic tecta were examined for: (i) ultrastructure by means of transmission electron microscopy; (ii) the immunohistochemical localization of HT7 antigen, a specific marker of differentiation of the brain microvessels; (iii) the brain microvessel permeability, by means of horseradish peroxidase (HRP) tracer; (iv) the expression of microvessel glycoconjugates, by means of lectin histochemistry, using Ricinus communis agglutinin-I (RCA-I), specific for β- D-galactosyl moieties and Wheat Germ agglutinin (WGA) specific for sialyl and N-acetylglucosaminyl moieties. A morphometric evaluation of brain microvessel permeability and of glycoconjugate expression was also performed. In control- and in IFNβ-1a-treated embryos, HRP was confined to the vessel lumina which were sealed by the interendothelial tight junctions. RCA-I binding sites were recognizable both in the basal membranes and in the tight junctions, while WGA sites were present on the luminal side of the endothelial cells. HRP was blocked in the vessels lumina by the interendothelial tight junctions. After LPS treatment, HRP showed an extravascular localization and the labeling of microvessels by anti-HT7 antibodies disappeared. RCA-I binding was only found ultrastructurally and appeared as irregularly clustered gold particles, in the cleft of damaged tight junctions, but were no longer detectable in the endothelial basement membranes. After pretreatment of LPS-treated embryos with IFNβ-1a, the vessel permeability to HRP strongly decreased and the vessels showed the normal pattern of HT7 protein and of the RCA-I binding sites. These results indicate that the changes induced by LPS in the endothelial cells are prevented by IFNβ-1a. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-242
Number of pages12
JournalDevelopmental Brain Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 7 2000



  • Blood-brain barrier
  • IFNβ-1a
  • LPS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Developmental Neuroscience

Cite this

Nico, B., Quondamatteo, F., Herken, R., Blumchen, T., Defazio, G., Giorelli, M., Livrea, P., Marzullo, A., Russo, G., Ribatti, D., & Roncali, L. (2000). Interferon β-1a prevents the effects of lipopolysaccharide on embryonic brain microvessels. Developmental Brain Research, 119(2), 231-242.