Blood nerve barrier in rat and cellular mechanisms of lead-induced segmental demyelination

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25 Scopus citations


Feeding of lead carbonate to rats causes widespread and reproducible segmental de- and remyelination of myelinated fibers (MFs) of peripheral nerve. Such segmental demyelination might be explained by increased permeability of endoneurial capillaries to serum containing protein-bound lead. The perineurium of control and lead nerves was impermeable to fluorescein-labeled bovine albumin (FBA) and to horseradish peroxidase (HRP). Epineurial capillaries in both conditions allowed HRP to pass freely between and, to a lesser extent, through endothelial cells. Confirming earlier work, endoneurial capillaries of control rats did not appear to allow HRP to pass between endothelial cells, but allowed some to pass by pinocytosis through endothelial cells where it was taken up by macrophages. Contrary to expectation, flooding of the endoneurium with HRP was seen in only 1 of 36 tissue blocks of lead nerves from rats fed 4% lead carbonate for 7 ½ and 12 weeks. Abundant HRP reaction product was seen in the epineurium in more than half of these tissue blocks. HRP was not generally found in endoneurial fluid, even in lead nerves with marked edema and widespread segmental de- and remyelination. These findings are against a massive breakdown of the blood nerve barrier, so that HRP passes freely into the endoneurium between endoneurial endothelial cells. It was our impression that HRP reaction product was slightly increased in endoneurial endothelial cells and macrophages of lead nerves as compared to control nerves. These studies suggest that there may be an increased transfer of HRP through endoneurial cells in lead neuropathy. The studies do not provide additional evidence that an altered blood nerve barrier is involved in the development of segmental demyelination in lead neuropathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)700-709
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1980

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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