Table of Contents
Cardiovascular Psychiatry and Neurology
Volume 2011, Article ID 646958, 9 pages
Research Article

Slice Cultures as a Model to Study Neurovascular Coupling and Blood Brain Barrier In Vitro

Institute for Neurophysiology, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Oudenarder Strasse 16, 13347 Berlin, Germany

Received 30 September 2010; Accepted 24 December 2010

Academic Editor: Alon Friedman

Copyright © 2011 Richard Kovács et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Proper neuronal functioning depends on a strictly regulated interstitial environment and tight coupling of neuronal and metabolic activity involving adequate vascular responses. These functions take place at the blood brain barrier (BBB) composed of endothelial cells, basal lamina covered with pericytes, and the endfeet of perivascular astrocytes. In conventional in vitro models of the BBB, some of these components are missing. Here we describe a new model system for studying BBB and neurovascular coupling by using confocal microscopy and fluorescence staining protocols in organotypic hippocampal slice cultures. An elaborated network of vessels is retained in culture in spite of the absence of blood flow. Application of calcein-AM either from the interstitial or from the luminal side resulted in different staining patterns indicating the maintenance of a barrier. By contrast, the ethidium derivative MitoSox penetrated perivascular basal lamina and revealed free radical formation in contractile cells embracing the vessels, likely pericytes.