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Blood-brain barrier

 

Explanations > Brain stuff > Blood-brain barrier

Description | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Capillary blood vessels in the body are not hermetically sealed and chemicals in the blood can leak out into the surrounding tissue (and vice versa).

This is not the case in the brain, where such general leakage would disrupt message transmission. There is thus a blood-brain barrier where capillary cell walls are more tightly joined together.

Discussion

There is some transmission through the walls, though this is carefully managed and the walls are selectively permeable. If nothing from the blood could escape, then it would serve no purpose. For example glucose transporters that bring fuel for the brain are allowed through.

The blood-brain barrier is also weaker in the area postrema in the medulla, where vomiting is managed. In this way toxins in the blood can be monitored and the vomit reaction triggered as needed.

See also

Parts of the brain, Hindbrain

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