Me Talk Pretty-blood brain barrier

Hello! No, you look great today.

This week’s super sexy, fancy pants physiology term is…

Blood brain barrier

Every organ in your body is supplied in some fashion with blood. Yes, I know I haven’t said anything too shocking yet. However, as far as
the body is concerned the brain is like Queen Mother and requires the extracellular fluid (fluid without the cells) to be separated from the circulating whole blood by a royal guard of specialized endothelial cells. Just like I pointed out in another article, True Blood, blood is a pretty wild mixture and not everything in that mixture is useful or even safe for the precious, fine tuned neurons of the Central Nervous System (CNS). A network of painfully tiny capillaries form an intricate spider web mesh that filters out big nasty things (microscopically speaking) like bacterial cells, microscopic fungi, and cellular debris as well as large hydrophyllic molecules like proteins, and a buffet of potentially bad news chemical compounds.
The Blood Brain Barrier has the mad skills to allow vital compounds like CO2 and O2 to slip through while actively transporting (uses membrane protein channels) glucose, hormones, and amino acids. Remember that the blood vessels of the body have elastic qualities and those vessel walls become more permeable (leaky) during inflammation.
When doctor’s perform spinal taps, drawing up CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) from within the patients spinal column with a syringe, the
fluid tells a story. In healthy patients spinal fluid should be a ghost town…clear, colorless, and devoid of red cells, white cells, and just about everything else. Patients with active infections of their CNS may show white cells, red cells, increased protein, glucose (like in Tuberculosis cases) and discoloration of the fluid sample. The inflammation or infection in that case has overwhelmed the BBB’s ability to filter. Sometimes you truly understand the value of a thing when it stops working.

Stay curious, stay classy, and never stop learning my friends 🙂


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