Efforts to transiently increase blood brain barrier permeability would facilitate improved CNS delivery of chemotherapy agents. Previous studies demonstrated that vascular endothelial factor (VEGF) increases permeability in traumatic brain injury and ischemic brain disease. Exogenously administered VEGF increases barrier permeability in the non-diseased CNS. In our study, we investigated the role for exogenous VEGF therapy to modulate blood-brain barrier permeability


For in vitro studies, confluent mouse brain endothelial cells (BEND.3) were treated with VEGF165. Trans-endothelial electrical resistance measured cell impedance changes and immunofluorescence was used to assess qualitative expression of tight and adherens junction proteins at key time points. Western blotting and qPCR were done to evaluate the effect of VEGF on expression of protein and RNA associated with tight and adherens junctions.


Confluent endothelial cells treated with rVEGF165 (200ng/mL) evaluated by TEER show a significant drop in cell impedance approximately 6 hours post treatment, compared to control (more than 10-fold) reflecting increased permeability of the monolayer. Treatment with progressively higher doses of VEGF (200, 400, and 600ng/mL) showed a progressively greater drop in cell impedance. Immunofluorescence of endothelial cells treated with rVEGF165 (200ng/mL) shows disassembly of both tight junctions and adherens junctions between 4 and 8 hours post-treatment compared to controls. Western blots and qPCR demonstrate that rVEGF165 treatment induces down-regulation of genes associated with tight junctions, such as Claudin5, beginning as early as 4 hours post treatment and continuing up to 24 hours post treatment.


Our results suggest that VEGF is capable of inducing transient breakdown of the blood-brain barrier, which may facilitate improved CNS delivery of chemotherapeutic agents. Our in vitro data warrants further investigations of the applicability of VEGF therapy to induce endothelial cell permeability in animal tumor models, potentially improving delivery of chemotherapeutic drugs.

Citation Format: Matthew McCord. Time dependent blood-brain barrier modulation by vascular endothelial growth factor to improve CNS drug delivery [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2017; 2017 Apr 1-5; Washington, DC. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2017;77(13 Suppl):Abstract nr 5215. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2017-5215