Reliable isolation of central nervous system microvessels across five vertebrate groups
Isolation of microvessels from the central nervous system (CNS) is commonly performed by combining cortical tissue from multiple animals, most often rodents. This approach limits the interrogation of blood-brain barrier (BBB) properties to the cortex and does not allow for individual comparison. This project focuses on the development of an isolation method that allows for the comparison of the neurovascular unit (NVU) from multiple CNS regions: cortex, cerebellum, optic lobe, hypothalamus, pituitary, brainstem, and spinal cord. Moreover, this protocol, originally developed for murine samples, was successfully adapted for use on CNS tissues from small and large vertebrate species from which we are also able to isolate microvessels from brain hemisphere white matter. This method, when paired with immunolabeling, allows for quantitation of protein expression and statistical comparison between individuals, tissue type, or treatment. We proved this applicability by evaluating changes in protein expression during experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a murine model of a neuroinflammatory disease, multiple sclerosis. Additionally, microvessels isolated by this method could be used for downstream applications like qPCR, RNA-seq, and Western blot, among others. Even though this is not the first attempt to isolate CNS microvessels without the use of ultracentrifugation or enzymatic dissociation, it is unique in its adeptness for the comparison of single individuals and multiple CNS regions. Therefore, it allows for investigation of a range of differences that may otherwise remain obscure: CNS portions (cortex, cerebellum, optic lobe, brainstem, hypothalamus, pituitary, and spinal cord), CNS tissue type (gray or white matter), individuals, experimental treatment groups, and species.