A three-dimensional cell culture system to model RNA virus infections at the bloodbrain barrier

Academic Article


  • The blood-brain barrier (BBB) comprises the foremost protective barrier in the brain and is composed in part of a layer of microvascular endothelial cells that line the capillaries surrounding the brain. Here, we describe a human threedimensional (3-D) cell-based model of the BBB microvascular endothelium that recapitulates properties of these cells in vivo, including physiologically relevant transcriptional profiles, the capacity to induce potent antimicrobial innate immune signaling, and the ability to resist infection by diverse RNA viruses, including members of the enterovirus (coxsackievirus B, echovirus 11, enterovirus 71, poliovirus) and flavivirus (dengue virus, Zika virus [ZIKV]) families. We show that disruption of apical tight junctions by proinflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) sensitizes 3-D-cultured BBB cells to ZIKV infection and that 3-D derived BBB cells can be used to model the transmigration of ZIKV-infected monocytes across the endothelial barrier to access underlying astrocytes. Taken together, our findings show that human BBB microvascular endothelial cells cultured in 3-D can be used to model the mechanisms by which RNA viruses access the central nervous system (CNS), which could be used for the development and screening of therapeutics to limit this event.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Bramley JC; Drummond CG; Lennemann NJ; Good CA; Kim KS; Coyne CB
  • Volume

  • 2
  • Issue

  • 3