A face-to-face comparison of claudin-5 transduced human brain endothelial (hCMEC/D3) cells with porcine brain endothelial cells as blood-brain barrier models for drug transport studies
BACKGROUND: Predictive in vitro models of the human blood-brain barrier (BBB) are essential in early drug discovery and development. Among available immortalized human brain capillary endothelial cell lines (BCECs), the hCMEC/D3 cell line has become the most widely used in vitro BBB model. However, monolayers of hCMEC/D3 cells form only moderately restrictive barriers, most likely because the major tight junction protein, claudin-5, is markedly downregulated. Thus, hCMEC/D3 monolayers cannot be used for vectorial drug transport experiments, which is a major disadvantage of this model. METHODS: Here we transduced hCMEC/D3 cells with a claudin-5 plasmid and compared the characteristics of these cells with those of hCMEC/D3 wildtype cells and primary cultured porcine BCECs. RESULTS: The claudin-5 transduced hCMEC/D3 exhibited expression levels (and junctional localization) of claudin-5 similar to those of primary cultured porcine BCECs. The transduced cells exhibited increased TEER values (211 Ω cm2) and reduced paracellular mannitol permeability (8.06%/h), indicating improved BBB properties; however, the barrier properties of porcine BCECs (TEER 1650 Ω cm2; mannitol permeability 3.95%/h) were not reached. Hence, vectorial transport of a selective P-glycoprotein substrate (N-desmethyl-loperamide) was not observed in claudin-5 transduced hCMEC/D3 (or wildtype) cells, whereas such drug transport occurred in porcine BCECs. CONCLUSIONS: The claudin-5 transduced hCMEC/D3 cells provide a tool to studying the contribution of claudin-5 to barrier tightness and how this can be further enhanced by additional transfections or other manipulations of this widely used in vitro model of the BBB.