Blood–brain barrier dysfunction in status epileptics: Mechanisms and role in epileptogenesis

Evyatar Swissa, Yonatan Serlin, Udi Vazana, Ofer Prager, Alon Friedman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The blood–brain barrier (BBB), a unique anatomical and physiological interface between the central nervous system (CNS) and the peripheral circulation, is essential for the function of neural circuits. Interactions between the BBB, cerebral blood vessels, neurons, astrocytes, microglia, and pericytes form a dynamic functional unit known as the neurovascular unit (NVU). The NVU-BBB crosstalk plays a key role in the regulation of blood flow, response to injury, neuronal firing, and synaptic plasticity. Blood–brain barrier dysfunction (BBBD), a hallmark of brain injury, is a prominent finding in status epilepticus. Blood–brain barrier dysfunction is observed within the first hour of status epilepticus, and in epileptogenic brain regions, may last for months. Blood–brain barrier dysfunction was shown to have a role in astroglial dysfunction, neuroinflammation, increasing neural excitability, reduction of seizure threshold, excitatory synaptogenesis, impaired plasticity, and epileptogenesis. A key signaling pathway associated with BBBD-induced neurovascular dysfunction is the transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) proinflammatory pathway, activated by the extravasation of serum albumin into the brain when BBB functions are compromised. Specific small molecules blocking TGF-β, and the nonspecific, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved blocker and angiotensin antagonist losartan, were shown to reduce BBBD and block epileptogenesis. With these encouraging preclinical data, we have developed imaging approach to quantitatively assess BBBD as a diagnostic, predictive, and pharmacodynamic biomarker after brain injury. Clinical trials in the foreseen future are expected to test the feasibility of BBB-targeted diagnostic coupled therapy in status epileptics and seizure disorders.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number106285
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • Biomarker
  • Blood–brain barrier
  • Epileptogenesis
  • Status epilepticus

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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