Small GTPase RhoA and its effector rho kinase mediate oxygen glucose deprivation-evoked in vitro cerebral barrier dysfunction

Claire Allen, Kirtiman Srivastava, Ulvi Bayraktutan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Enhanced vascular permeability attributable to disruption of blood-brain barrier results in the development of cerebral edema after stroke. Using an in vitro model of the brain barrier composed of human brain microvascular endothelial cells and human astrocytes, this study explored whether small GTPase RhoA and its effector protein Rho kinase were involved in permeability changes mediated by oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD), key pathological phenomena during ischemic stroke.

METHODS: OGD increased RhoA and Rho kinase protein expressions in human brain microvascular endothelial cells and human astrocytes while increasing or unaffecting that of endothelial nitric oxide synthase in respective cells. Reperfusion attenuated the expression and activity of RhoA and Rho kinase in both cell types compared to their counterparts exposed to equal periods of OGD alone while selectively increasing human brain microvascular endothelial cells endothelial nitric oxide synthase protein levels. OGD compromised the barrier integrity as confirmed by decreases in transendothelial electric resistance and concomitant increases in flux of permeability markers sodium fluorescein and Evan's blue albumin across cocultures. Transfection of cells with constitutively active RhoA also increased flux and reduced transendothelial electric resistance, whereas inactivation of RhoA by anti-RhoA Ig electroporation exerted opposite effects. In vitro cerebral barrier dysfunction was accompanied by myosin light chain overphosphorylation and stress fiber formation. Reperfusion and treatments with a Rho kinase inhibitor Y-27632 significantly attenuated barrier breakdown without profoundly altering actin structure.

CONCLUSIONS: Increased RhoA/Rho kinase/myosin light chain pathway activity coupled with changes in actin cytoskeleton account for OGD-induced endothelial barrier breakdown.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2056-63
Number of pages8
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2010


  • Astrocytes
  • Blood-Brain Barrier
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Hypoxia
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Endothelial Cells
  • Endothelium, Vascular
  • Glucose
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type III
  • Permeability
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • rho-Associated Kinases


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