Regulation of Immune Cell Entry into the Central Nervous System

  • Britta EngelhardtEmail author
Part of the Results and Problems in Cell Differentiation book series (RESULTS, volume 43)


The central nervous system (CNS) has long been regarded as an immune privileged organ implying that the immune system avoids the CNS to not disturb its homeostasis, which is critical for proper function of neurons. Meanwhile, it is accepted that immune cells do in fact gain access to the CNS and that immune responses can be mounted within this tissue. However, the unique CNS microenvironment strictly controls these immune reactions starting with tightly controlling immune cell entry into the tissue. The endothelial blood-brain barrier (BBB) and the epithelial blood-cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) barrier, which protect the CNS from the constantly changing milieu within the bloodstream, also strictly control immune cell entry into the CNS. Under physiological conditions, immune cell migration into the CNS is kept at a very low level. In contrast, during a variety of pathological conditions of the CNS such as viral or bacterial infections, or during inflammatory diseases such as multiple sclerosis, immunocompetent cells readily traverse the BBB and likely also the choroid plexus and subsequently enter the CNS parenchyma or CSF spaces. This chapter summarizes our current knowledge of immune cell entry across the blood CNS barriers. A large body of the currently available information on immune cell entry into the CNS has been derived from studying experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model for multiple sclerosis. Therefore, most of this chapter discussing immune cell entry during CNS pathogenesis refers to observations in the EAE model, allowing for the possibility that other mechanisms of immune cell entry into the CNS might apply under different pathological conditions such as bacterial meningitis or stroke.


Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis Brain Endothelial Cell Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis Model Central Nervous System Parenchyma Human Brain Endothelial Cell 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Theodor Kocher InstituteUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland

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