The blood-brain barrier helps prevent damaging substances such as toxins, bacteria, parasites, and other harmful substances from getting into the brain.
In light of recent studies, scientists have found that the brain also relies on the distribution of hormones and nutrients, such as glucose and amino acids, from several other organs in the human body to support this system. To have a better understanding of how the brain’s security team works, they injected chemicals into the bloodstreams of animals and later checked the quantity that reached their brains.
Access to the Brain
After conducting such tests and other in-depth researches, experts have discovered several doors into the brain through the blood-brain barrier. These include passageways for fat-soluble molecules like vitamin A, for smaller molecules of a certain shape, and for bigger compounds, such as glucose and insulin, that require help when penetrating the barrier, and rely on transporter proteins to assist them.
The endothelial cells on either side stay in constant communication about when and which of these molecules are allowed to pass through the blood-brain barrier. Take for instance, in the event that the nerve cells in a particular area of the brain are not functioning properly, the blood vessels will be alerted and notified immediately in order to expand, enabling cell healing nutrients to quickly travel from the blood towards the cells that are in need.
Sometimes, especially in certain types of brain cancer or infections, the blood-brain barrier can collapse. The blood vessels that pass through can cause tear and allow leakage to begin.
Once this does happen, the brain becomes exposed to a variety of external substances that can trigger all sorts of reactions, including severe impacts on cognition if not treated promptly and properly, and an automatic upsurge in myelination, the insulation coating between the nerve cells, if these do get a chance to access the brain.
Studies show that any kind of deterioration on the blood-brain barrier can precede, expedite, and even lead to several neurodegenerative disorders. A few evidences have also noted that a broken barrier allows excessive white blood cells into the brains of those with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Formulating drugs that will go deep into blood-brain barrier
Repairing leakages within the blood-brain barrier is certainly quite an obstacle for doctors and scientists. Finding ways for drugs to enter the brain without going under the knife is even more so.
Unfortunately, approximately 98% of prospective medicinal drugs for brain disorders today cannot pass the blood-brain barrier. However, there are a few limited alternatives for patients who suffer from brain tumors and other neurological diseases.
In light of these issues, together with the development of modern brain technologies, scientists are now establishing creative solutions to temporarily remove the blood-brain barrier to facilitate drugs and to help them accomplish their objectives inside the brain. They are already setting up a variety of ways to make sure life-saving drugs can reach specific targets affected by illnesses and diseases.
One technique they are attempting to do is to make the barrier extra permeable. Fluid from the endothelial cells are drawn out, causing them to shrivel up and to temporarily create more spaces for medicines to cross. Within a couple of hours, the floodgate will close and the cells will return to their standard size. Although this innovative technique faces numerous problems as well, several experts are hoping that this ground-breaking information about the blood-brain barrier may lead to the better treatment of both minor and intractable brain disorders in the future.