The effect of hypoxia on ZEB1 expression in a mimetic system of the blood-brain barrier

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The blood-brain barrier consists of a tightly sealed monolayer of endothelial cells being vital in maintaining a stable intracerebral microenvironment. The barrier is receptive to leakage upon exposure to environmental factors, like hypoxia, and its disruption has been suggested as a constituent in the pathophysiology of both neurological and psychiatric disorders. The schizophrenia associated ZEB1 gene encodes a transcription factor susceptible to transcriptional control by a hypoxia induced factor, HIF1A, known to be implicated in blood-brain barrier dysfunction. However, whether ZEB1 is also implicated in maintaining blood-brain barrier integrity upon hypoxia is unknown. Here we assessed Hif1a, Zo1 and Zeb1 mRNA expression and ZO1 protein abundancy in a mimetic system of the in vivo blood-brain barrier comprising mouse brain endothelial cells subjected to the norm- and proven hypoxic conditions. Despite that, Hif1a mRNA expression was significantly increased, clearly indicating that the oxygen-deprived environment introduced a hypoxia response in the cells, we found no hypoxia-induced changes in neither ZO1 abundancy nor in the expression of Zo1 and Zeb1 mRNA. However, independent of hypoxia status, we found that Zeb1 and Zo1 mRNA expression is highly correlated. Further studies are warranted that investigate the implication of the ZEB1/ZO1 axis in blood-brain barrier maintenance under different physiological conditions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMicrovascular Research
Pages (from-to)131-135
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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