Divergent effects of zinc depletion in brain vs non-brain endothelial cells

Francescopaolo Di Cello, Venkatraman Siddharthan, Maneesh Paul-Satyaseela, Sik Kim Kwang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Dietary zinc deficiency is common in developing as well as developed countries. Endothelial cells (EC) lining the inner surface of peripheral blood vessels are sensitive to zinc deficiency and lose structural integrity when exposed to culture media low in zinc or to zinc chelators. In contrast, we demonstrate here that human brain microvascular EC (HBMEC), which constitute the blood-brain barrier (BBB), resist zinc depletion and respond by enhancing their barrier function. This response was specific for HBMEC and did not occur in non-brain EC, such as human umbilical vein endothelial cells, human aortic endothelial cells, and human iliac vein endothelial cells. Our results suggest the presence of specific mechanisms to counteract zinc deficiency at the BBB, likely involving HBMEC junctional complexes. Understanding the mechanisms involved in this unique response might provide means to modulate the BBB dysfunction associated with neurological disorders such as stroke, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer's disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)373-376
Number of pages4
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 23 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Endothelial cells
  • Zinc deprivation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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