Isolation of cerebral capillaries from fresh human brain tissue

Anika M.S. Hartz, Julia A. Schulz, Brent S. Sokola, Stephanie E. Edelmann, Andrew N. Shen, Ralf G. Rempe, Yu Zhong, Nader El Seblani, Bjoern Bauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Understanding blood-brain barrier function under physiological and pathophysiological conditions is critical for the development of new therapeutic strategies that hold the promise to enhance brain drug delivery, improve brain protection, and treat brain disorders. However, studying the human blood-brain barrier function is challenging. Thus, there is a critical need for appropriate models. In this regard, brain capillaries isolated from human brain tissue represent a unique tool to study barrier function as close to the human in vivo situation as possible. Here, we describe an optimized protocol to isolate capillaries from human brain tissue at a high yield and with consistent quality and purity. Capillaries are isolated from fresh human brain tissue using mechanical homogenization, density-gradient centrifugation, and filtration. After the isolation, the human brain capillaries can be used for various applications including leakage assays, live cell imaging, and immune-based assays to study protein expression and function, enzyme activity, or intracellular signaling. Isolated human brain capillaries are a unique model to elucidate the regulation of the human blood-brain barrier function. This model can provide insights into central nervous system (CNS) pathogenesis, which will help the development of therapeutic strategies for treating CNS disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere57346
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number139
StatePublished - Sep 12 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Journal of Visualized Experiments. All rights reserved.


  • Blood-brain barrier
  • Brain capillaries
  • Endothelial cells
  • Human brain tissue
  • Issue 139
  • Neuroscience
  • Neuroscience
  • Neurovasculature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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