Characterization of blood–brain barrier integrity in a B-cell-dependent mouse model of multiple sclerosis

  • Luisa Bell
  • Tobias Koeniger
  • Sabine Tacke
  • Stefanie KuertenEmail author
Original Paper


Recent studies with B-cell-depleting antibodies have demonstrated clinical success in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS) patients. While these antibodies efficiently target B cells in the blood, it is unclear how effective they are in the central nervous system (CNS), especially in the context of limited blood–brain barrier (BBB) permeability and the ongoing discussion on the relevance of B-cell aggregate formation in the brains of SP-MS patients. The aim of this study was to evaluate BBB integrity in the context of B-cell-dependent neuroinflammation in a mouse model of MS. C57BL/6 mice were actively immunized with either myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein peptide 35-55 to induce T-cell-dependent experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), or with the myelin basic protein–proteolipid protein fusion protein MP4 for additional B-cell dependence. BBB integrity was assessed using Evans Blue or fluorescein isothiocyanate–dextran injection, respectively, in combination with immunofluorescence staining for key components of the BBB. In both EAE models, tracer leakage into the CNS parenchyma was observed indicating BBB leakiness. Yet, intensity and distribution patterns of leakage differed between the two models. There was no difference in the severity of BBB damage comparing acute and chronic MP4-induced EAE, but the formation of B-cell aggregates was associated with local BBB impairment in this model. This study underscores that a leaky BBB is a characteristic feature of EAE, but it also suggests that extent and region specificity of BBB damage differs between individual EAE models that vary in the underlying immunopathology.


BBB B cells EAE FITC–dextran MP4 MS 



Antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity


Analysis of variances




Blood–brain barrier


Complement-dependent cytotoxicity


Complete Freund’s adjuvant


Central nervous system


Cerebrospinal fluid




Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis


Fluorescein isothiocyanate


Incomplete Freund’s adjuvant


Myelin basic protein


Myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein


MBP–PLP fusion protein


Magnetic resonance imaging


Multiple sclerosis


Phosphate-buffered saline


Postcapillary venule




Proteolipid protein


Relapsing–remitting MS


Room temperature


Standard deviation


Secondary progressive MS



We would like to thank Michael Christof for graphical procession of the figures and Brigitte Treffny for technical support.

Author contributions

LB conducted Evans Blue and FITC–dextran experiments, statistical analyses, interpreted the data, and drafted the manuscript. TK supported the experimental layout and scored the mice. LB and SK were responsible for the design of the study. SK immunized and treated the mice, supervised the study, interpreted the data, and drafted the manuscript. ST drafted the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.


This study was funded by a research grant from Hoffman-La Roche.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethics approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. The study was approved by the Regierung von Unterfranken (file 91/14).

Supplementary material

418_2019_1768_MOESM1_ESM.docx (11 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 11228 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anatomy and Cell BiologyUniversity of WürzburgWürzburgGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Anatomy and Cell BiologyFriedrich Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU)ErlangenGermany

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