Establishment of a human blood-brain barrier co-culture model mimicking the neurovascular unit using induced pluripotent stem cells
Human blood-brain barrier (BBB) in vitro models pose a promising tool in drug development and understanding of mechanistic regulations during health and disease. Human-induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPS cells) represent an unlimited cell source to generate functional cells of the neurovascular unit (NVU), independent of variations or limitations during isolation and in vitro cultivation. This unit describes the standardized 2-D differentiation of adherent hiPS cells into BBB endothelial cells and neuronal stem cells (NSCs). Both cell types are combined with primary astrocytes and pericytes to develop complex, physiological BBB in vitro models. The endothelial cells in the apical compartment of the transwell models are separated from the basolateral seeded co-culture mixture by a synthetic membrane, simplifying analyses. The barrier integrity and functionality of the endothelium is improved by the specific mixture of NVU niche cells, determined here by decrease in the paracellular permeability of sodium-fluorescein and transendothelial electrical resistance (TEER) measurement.