Research field: Gut and brain barriers in inflammatory diseases
Team leader: Prof. Dr. Roos Vandenbroucke
Tel:+32 9 33 13766 - Fax: +32 9 221 76 73
Tight barriers form the major protection for the brain against external insults such as toxins, infectious agents and peripheral blood fluctuations. These barriers are a central part of the brain homeostasis mechanism and assure a balanced and well-controlled micro-environment around synapses and axons in the central nervous system (CNS). Although largely understudied, the choroid plexus epithelium (CPE), forming the blood-CSF barrier (BCSFB), is an important and unique single layer of epithelial cells situated at the interface between blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) (Figure). Subtle changes in the CPE, via changes in the CSF composition, have wide-ranging effects on the brain and will subsequently affect disease progression. Therefore, understanding BCSFB functionality under physiological and pathophysiological conditions might open up new therapeutic strategies to treat inflammatory diseases.
Our research focuses on the effect of systemic inflammation (including sepsis/SIRS or other inflammatory stimuli such as (inflamm)aging) and neuroinflammation (such as the age-related disease Alzheimer’s) on the BCSFB.
We currently have different research lines:
(1) We study the key molecules that play a role in the activated detrimental processes at the BCSFB upon inflammation, focusing on barrier integrity, extracellular vesicles (exosomes), and acute phase response.
(2) We study whether the choroid plexus is ‘the missing link’ in the body-to-brain axis, due to its unique position between blood and brain. Hereto, we are investigating whether peripheral inflammatory triggers, e.g. in the gastrointestinal system, affect the CPE and consequently increase the sensitivity for the development of neuroinflammatory diseases.
(3) We explore whether the CPE can be used as a delivery route to the brain.
Area of expertise
Technology transfer potential