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Keywords:

  • blood/cerebrospinal fluid barrier;
  • cerebrospinal fluid;
  • choroid plexus;
  • postnatal Monodelphis;
  • protein transfer

Abstract

A developmentally regulated protein-specific transfer mechanism across choroid plexus epithelial cells has previously been proposed to contribute to the characteristically high concentration of protein in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in the immature brain. Here we demonstrate that this mechanism is sensitive to protein variations in plasma resulting in changed numbers of transferring cells for individual proteins and altered transfer into the CSF. Pups of Monodelphis domestica at postnatal day (P)9, P65 and P110 were injected intraperitoneally with either adult Monodelphis plasma or exogenous bovine fetuin. Samples of CSF, blood and brain were collected from terminally anaesthetized animals 3–48 h later. The concentration of total protein was measured and levels of albumin, hemopexin, α-fetoprotein and bovine fetuin were estimated by western blotting. Numbers of lateral ventricular choroid plexus cells positive for total and individual plasma proteins were counted in paraffin sections of brains stained with appropriate antibodies. Following intraperitoneal injections, the content of proteins in the CSF increased at all three ages, but the concentration increased only in the CSF of older animals. The total numbers of plexus cells positive for plasma protein did not change significantly, but cells positive for individual proteins did. Fetuin was detected in all protein-positive cells, but apparently displaced α-fetoprotein and, to a lesser degree, hemopexin. The results indicate that protein transfer across the blood/CSF barrier appears to be regulated by a molecular recognition mechanism that is probably saturable but may not be as specific for individual proteins as previously suggested.