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Paper Chase

Immunological function of the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.. 3 1, 1989;86(5):1684-8.
Nathanson JA, Chun LL.

Department of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114.


Because the brain lacks a true lymphatic system, it is unclear how peripheral lymphocytes recognize foreign antigens present in the central nervous system. This report demonstrates that the choroid plexus, which constitutes the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier, is able to present foreign antigen to, and stimulate the proliferation of, peripheral helper T lymphocytes through an Ia-dependent, major histocompatibility complex-restricted mechanism. Furthermore, in vivo, choroid plexus epithelial cells have access to, and are capable of taking up, virus-sized particles injected elsewhere into the cerebrospinal fluid. Thus these data suggest that the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier may play a role in immunological communication between the central nervous system and periphery, a function relevant to the initiation of immunological responses to central nervous system infections and autoimmune processes and for the surveillance of tumor cells in the cerebrospinal fluid.