In Vitro Models for Studying the Interaction of Neisseria meningitidis with Human Brain Endothelial Cells

  • Brandon J. Kim
  • Alexandra Schubert-UnkmeirEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 1969)


Bacterial meningitis is a serious, life-threatening infection of the central nervous system (CNS). To cause meningitis, bacteria must interact with and penetrate the meningeal blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier (mB/CSFB), which comprises highly specialized brain endothelial cells. Neisseria meningitidis (meningococcus) is a leading cause of bacterial meningitis, and examination meningococcus’ interaction with the BBB is critical for understanding disease progression. To examine specific interactions, in vitro mB/CSFB models have been developed and employed and are of great importance because in vivo models have been difficult to produce considering Neisseria meningitidis is exclusively a human pathogen. Most in vitro blood-brain barrier and mB/CSF models use primary and immortalized brain endothelial cells, and these models have been used to examine bacterial–mB/CSFB interactions by a variety of pathogens. This chapter describes the use of past and current in vitro brain endothelial cells to model Neisseria meningitidis interaction with the mB/CSFB, and inform on the standard operating procedure for their use.

Key words

Neisseria meningitidis Blood-brain barrier Brain endothelium Meningitis Meningeal blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier 



We would like to thank past and present laboratory members of the Schubert-Unkmeir laboratory at the Institute for Hygiene and Microbiology, University of Würzburg. Work in the Schubert-Unkmeir laboratory on the interaction of N. meningitidis with BECs was supported by grants of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SCHU2394/3-1, SCHU 2394/2-1, SCHU 2394/2-2 and GRK2157) to A.S.M. and an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Fellowship to B.J.K. We are grateful to Elizabeth M. Rossi M.F.A. for the generation of Fig. 1.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Hygiene and MicrobiologyUniversity of WürzburgWürzburgGermany

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