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Ismini Papageorgiou - Top 30 Publications

Local oxygen homeostasis during various neuronal network activity states in the mouse hippocampus.

Cortical information processing comprises various activity states emerging from timed synaptic excitation and inhibition. However, the underlying energy metabolism is widely unknown. We determined the cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen (CMRO2) along a tissue depth of <0.3 mm in the hippocampal CA3 region during various network activities, including gamma oscillations and sharp wave-ripples that occur during wakefulness and sleep. These physiological states associate with sensory perception and memory formation, and critically depend on perisomatic GABA inhibition. Moreover, we modelled vascular oxygen delivery based on quantitative microvasculature analysis. (1) Local CMRO2 was highest during gamma oscillations (3.4 mM/min), medium during sharp wave-ripples, asynchronous activity and isoflurane application (2.0-1.6 mM/min), and lowest during tetrodotoxin application (1.4 mM/min). (2) Energy expenditure of axonal and synaptic signaling accounted for >50% during gamma oscillations. (3) CMRO2 positively correlated with number and synchronisation of activated synapses, and neural multi-unit activity. (4) The median capillary distance was 44 µm. (5) The vascular oxygen partial pressure of 33 mmHg was needed to sustain oxidative phosphorylation during gamma oscillations. We conclude that gamma oscillations featuring high energetics require a hemodynamic response to match oxygen consumption of respiring mitochondria, and that perisomatic inhibition significantly contributes to the brain energy budget.

Computer aided detection in prostate cancer diagnostics: A promising alternative to biopsy? A retrospective study from 104 lesions with histological ground truth.

Prostate cancer (PCa) diagnosis by means of multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging (mpMRI) is a current challenge for the development of computer-aided detection (CAD) tools. An innovative CAD-software (Watson Elementary™) was proposed to achieve high sensitivity and specificity, as well as to allege a correlate to Gleason grade.

Computed tomography perfusion-based selection of endovascularly treated acute ischaemic stroke patients - Are there lessons to be learned from the pre-evidence era?

Introduction Some of the latest groundbreaking trials suggest that noncontrast cranial computed tomography and computed tomography-angiography are sufficient tools for patient selection within six hours of symptom onset. Before endovascular stroke therapy became the standard of care, patient selection was one of the most useful tools to avoid futile reperfusions. We report the outcomes of endovascularly treated stroke patients selected with a perfusion-based paradigm and discuss the implications in the current era of endovascular treatment. Material and methods After an interdisciplinary meeting in September 2012 we agreed to select thrombectomy candidates primarily based on computed tomography perfusion with a cerebral blood volume Alberta Stroke Program Early Computed Tomography Scale (CBV-ASPECTS) of <7 being a strong indicator of futile reperfusion. In this study, we retrospectively screened all patients with an M1 thrombosis in our neurointerventional database between September 2012 and December 2014. Results In 39 patients with a mean age of 69 years and a median admission National Institute of Health Stroke Scale of 17 the successful reperfusion rate was 74% and the favourable outcome rate at 90 days was 56%. Compared to previously published data from our database 2007-2011, we found that a two-point increase in median CBV-ASPECTS was associated with a significant increase in favourable outcomes. Conclusion Computed tomography perfusion imaging as an additional selection criterion significantly increased the rate of favourable clinical outcome in patients treated with mechanical thrombectomy. Although computed tomography perfusion has lost impact within the six-hour period, we still use it in cases beyond six hours as a means to broaden the therapeutic window.

Computer-aided Detection Fidelity of Pulmonary Nodules in Chest Radiograph.

The most ubiquitous chest diagnostic method is the chest radiograph. A common radiographic finding, quite often incidental, is the nodular pulmonary lesion. The detection of small lesions out of complex parenchymal structure is a daily clinical challenge. In this study, we investigate the efficacy of the computer-aided detection (CAD) software package SoftView™ 2.4A for bone suppression and OnGuard™ 5.2 (Riverain Technologies, Miamisburg, OH, USA) for automated detection of pulmonary nodules in chest radiographs.

Latest generation of flat detector CT as a peri-interventional diagnostic tool: a comparative study with multidetector CT.

Flat detector CT (FDCT) has been used as a peri-interventional diagnostic tool in numerous studies with mixed results regarding image quality and detection of intracranial lesions. We compared the diagnostic aspects of the latest generation FDCT with standard multidetector CT (MDCT).

Amyloid Precursor Protein Protects Neuronal Network Function after Hypoxia via Control of Voltage-Gated Calcium Channels.

Acute cerebral ischemia and chronic neurovascular diseases share various common mechanisms with neurodegenerative diseases, such as disturbed cellular calcium and energy homeostasis and accumulation of toxic metabolites. A link between these conditions may be constituted by amyloid precursor protein (APP), which plays a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease, but has also been associated with the response to acute hypoxia and regulation of calcium homeostasis. We therefore studied hypoxia-induced loss of function and recovery upon reoxygenation in hippocampal slices of mice lacking APP (APP(-/-)) or selectively expressing its soluble extracellular domain (APPsα-KI). Transient hypoxia disrupted electrical activity at the network and cellular level. In mice lacking APP, these impairments were significantly more severe, showing increased rise of intracellular calcium, faster loss of function, and higher incidence of spreading depression. Likewise, functional recovery upon reoxygenation was much slower and less complete than in controls. Most of these deficits were rescued by selective expression of the soluble extracellular fragment APPsα, or by pharmacological block of L-type calcium channels. We conclude that APP supports neuronal resistance toward acute hypoxia. This effect is mediated by the secreted APPsα-domain and involves L-type calcium channels.

Brain Endothelial- and Epithelial-Specific Interferon Receptor Chain 1 Drives Virus-Induced Sickness Behavior and Cognitive Impairment.

Sickness behavior and cognitive dysfunction occur frequently by unknown mechanisms in virus-infected individuals with malignancies treated with type I interferons (IFNs) and in patients with autoimmune disorders. We found that during sickness behavior, single-stranded RNA viruses, double-stranded RNA ligands, and IFNs shared pathways involving engagement of melanoma differentiation-associated protein 5 (MDA5), retinoic acid-inducible gene 1 (RIG-I), and mitochondrial antiviral signaling protein (MAVS), and subsequently induced IFN responses specifically in brain endothelia and epithelia of mice. Behavioral alterations were specifically dependent on brain endothelial and epithelial IFN receptor chain 1 (IFNAR). Using gene profiling, we identified that the endothelia-derived chemokine ligand CXCL10 mediated behavioral changes through impairment of synaptic plasticity. These results identified brain endothelial and epithelial cells as natural gatekeepers for virus-induced sickness behavior, demonstrated tissue specific IFNAR engagement, and established the CXCL10-CXCR3 axis as target for the treatment of behavioral changes during virus infection and type I IFN therapy.

Shifts in excitatory/inhibitory balance by juvenile stress: A role for neuron-astrocyte interaction in the dentate gyrus.

Childhood trauma is a well-described risk factor for the development of stress-related psychopathology such as posttraumatic stress disorder or depression later in life. Childhood adversity can be modeled in rodents by juvenile stress (JS) protocols, resulting in impaired coping with stressful challenges in adulthood. In the current study, we investigated the long-lasting impact of JS on the expression of molecular factors for glutamate and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) uptake and turnover in sublayers of the dentate gyrus (DG) using laser microdissection and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction. We observed reduced mRNA expression levels after JS for factors mediating astrocytic glutamate and GABA uptake and degradation. These alterations were prominently observed in the dorsal but not ventral DG granule cell layer, indicating a lasting change in astrocytic GABA and glutamate metabolism that may affect dorsal DG network activity. Indeed, we observed increased inhibition and a lack of facilitation in response to paired-pulse stimulation at short interstimulus intervals in the dorsal DG after JS, while no alterations were evident in basal synaptic transmission or forms of long-term plasticity. The shift in paired-pulse response was mimicked by pharmacologically blocking the astrocytic GABA transporter GAT-3 in naïve animals. Accordingly, reduced expression levels of GAT-3 were confirmed at the protein level in the dorsal granule cell layer of rats stressed in juvenility. Together, these data demonstrate a lasting shift in the excitatory/inhibitory balance of dorsal DG network activity by JS that appears to be mediated by decreased GABA uptake into astrocytes.

TLR4-activated microglia require IFN-γ to induce severe neuronal dysfunction and death in situ.

Microglia (tissue-resident macrophages) represent the main cell type of the innate immune system in the CNS; however, the mechanisms that control the activation of microglia are widely unknown. We systematically explored microglial activation and functional microglia-neuron interactions in organotypic hippocampal slice cultures, i.e., postnatal cortical tissue that lacks adaptive immunity. We applied electrophysiological recordings of local field potential and extracellular K(+) concentration, immunohistochemistry, design-based stereology, morphometry, Sholl analysis, and biochemical analyses. We show that chronic activation with either bacterial lipopolysaccharide through Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) or leukocyte cytokine IFN-γ induces reactive phenotypes in microglia associated with morphological changes, population expansion, CD11b and CD68 up-regulation, and proinflammatory cytokine (IL-1β, TNF-α, IL-6) and nitric oxide (NO) release. Notably, these reactive phenotypes only moderately alter intrinsic neuronal excitability and gamma oscillations (30-100 Hz), which emerge from precise synaptic communication of glutamatergic pyramidal cells and fast-spiking, parvalbumin-positive GABAergic interneurons, in local hippocampal networks. Short-term synaptic plasticity and extracellular potassium homeostasis during neural excitation, also reflecting astrocyte function, are unaffected. In contrast, the coactivation of TLR4 and IFN-γ receptors results in neuronal dysfunction and death, caused mainly by enhanced microglial inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression and NO release, because iNOS inhibition is neuroprotective. Thus, activation of TLR4 in microglia in situ requires concomitant IFN-γ receptor signaling from peripheral immune cells, such as T helper type 1 and natural killer cells, to unleash neurotoxicity and inflammation-induced neurodegeneration. Our findings provide crucial mechanistic insight into the complex process of microglia activation, with relevance to several neurologic and psychiatric disorders.

A reliable model for gamma oscillations in hippocampal tissue.

Gamma oscillations (30-100 Hz) reflect a fast brain rhythm that provides a fundamental mechanism of complex neuronal information processing in the hippocampus and in the neocortex in vivo. Gamma oscillations have been implicated in higher brain functions, such as sensory perception, motor activity, and memory formation. Experimental studies on synaptic transmission and bioenergetics underlying gamma oscillations have primarily used acute slices of the hippocampus. This study tests whether organotypic hippocampal slice cultures of the rat provide an alternative model for cortical gamma oscillations in vitro. Our findings are that 1) slice cultures feature well-preserved laminated architecture and neuronal morphology; 2) slice cultures of different maturation stages (7-28 days in vitro) reliably express gamma oscillations at about 40 Hz as induced by cholinergic (acetylcholine) or glutamatergic (kainate) receptor agonists; 3) the peak frequency of gamma oscillations depends on the temperature, with an increase of ∼ 3.5 Hz per degree Celsius for the range of 28-36 °C; 4) most slice cultures show persistent gamma oscillations for ∼ 1 hr during electrophysiological local field potential recordings, and later alterations may occur; and 5) in slice cultures, glucose at a concentration of 5 mM in the recording solution is sufficient to power gamma oscillations, and additional energy substrate supply with monocarboxylate metabolite lactate (2 mM) exclusively increases the peak frequency by ∼ 4 Hz. This study shows that organotypic hippocampal slice cultures provide a reliable model to study agonist-induced gamma oscillations at glucose levels near the physiological range.

Energy substrates that fuel fast neuronal network oscillations.

Fast neuronal network oscillations in the gamma-frequency band (30--100 Hz) provide a fundamental mechanism of complex neuronal information processing in the hippocampus and neocortex of mammals. Gamma oscillations have been implicated in higher brain functions such as sensory perception, motor activity, and memory formation. The oscillations emerge from precise synapse interactions between excitatory principal neurons such as pyramidal cells and inhibitory GABAergic interneurons, and they are associated with high energy expenditure. However, both energy substrates and metabolic pathways that are capable to power cortical gamma oscillations have been less defined. Here, we investigated the energy sources fueling persistent gamma oscillations in the CA3 subfield of organotypic hippocampal slice cultures of the rat. This preparation permits superior oxygen supply as well as fast application of glucose, glycolytic metabolites or drugs such as glycogen phosphorylase inhibitor during extracellular recordings of the local field potential. Our findings are: (i) gamma oscillations persist in the presence of glucose (10 mmol/L) for greater than 60 min in slice cultures while (ii) lowering glucose levels (2.5 mmol/L) significantly reduces the amplitude of the oscillation. (iii) Gamma oscillations are absent at low concentration of lactate (2 mmol/L). (iv) Gamma oscillations persist at high concentration (20 mmol/L) of either lactate or pyruvate, albeit showing significant reductions in the amplitude. (v) The breakdown of glycogen significantly delays the decay of gamma oscillations during glucose deprivation. However, when glucose is present, the turnover of glycogen is not essential to sustain gamma oscillations. Our study shows that fast neuronal network oscillations can be fueled by different energy-rich substrates, with glucose being most effective.

Highly energized inhibitory interneurons are a central element for information processing in cortical networks.

Gamma oscillations (∼30 to 100 Hz) provide a fundamental mechanism of information processing during sensory perception, motor behavior, and memory formation by coordination of neuronal activity in networks of the hippocampus and neocortex. We review the cellular mechanisms of gamma oscillations about the underlying neuroenergetics, i.e., high oxygen consumption rate and exquisite sensitivity to metabolic stress during hypoxia or poisoning of mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation. Gamma oscillations emerge from the precise synaptic interactions of excitatory pyramidal cells and inhibitory GABAergic interneurons. In particular, specialized interneurons such as parvalbumin-positive basket cells generate action potentials at high frequency ('fast-spiking') and synchronize the activity of numerous pyramidal cells by rhythmic inhibition ('clockwork'). As prerequisites, fast-spiking interneurons have unique electrophysiological properties and particularly high energy utilization, which is reflected in the ultrastructure by enrichment with mitochondria and cytochrome c oxidase, most likely needed for extensive membrane ion transport and γ-aminobutyric acid metabolism. This supports the hypothesis that highly energized fast-spiking interneurons are a central element for cortical information processing and may be critical for cognitive decline when energy supply becomes limited ('interneuron energy hypothesis'). As a clinical perspective, we discuss the functional consequences of metabolic and oxidative stress in fast-spiking interneurons in aging, ischemia, Alzheimer's disease, and schizophrenia.

Widespread activation of microglial cells in the hippocampus of chronic epileptic rats correlates only partially with neurodegeneration.

Activation of microglial cells (brain macrophages) soon after status epilepticus has been suggested to be critical for the pathogenesis of mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE). However, microglial activation in the chronic phase of experimental MTLE has been scarcely addressed. In this study, we questioned whether microglial activation persists in the hippocampus of pilocarpine-treated, epileptic Wistar rats and to which extent it is associated with segmental neurodegeneration. Microglial cells were immunostained for the universal microglial marker, ionized calcium-binding adapter molecule-1 and the activation marker, CD11b (also known as OX42, Mac-1). Using quantitative morphology, i.e., stereology and Neurolucida-based reconstructions, we investigated morphological correlates of microglial activation such as cell number, ramification, somatic size and shape. We find that microglial cells in epileptic rats feature widespread, activation-related morphological changes such as increase in cell number density, massive up-regulation of CD11b and de-ramification. The parameters show heterogeneity in different hippocampal subregions. For instance, de-ramification is most prominent in the outer molecular layer of the dentate gyrus, whereas CD11b expression dominates in hilus. Interestingly, microglial activation only partially correlates with segmental neurodegeneration. Major neuronal death in the hilus, CA3 and CA1 coincides with strong up-regulation of CD11b. However, microglial activation is also observed in subregions that do not feature neurodegeneration, such as the molecular and granular layer of the dentate gyrus. This in vivo study provides solid experimental evidence that microglial cells feature widespread heterogeneous activation that only partially correlates with hippocampal segmental neuronal loss in experimental MTLE.

High-frequency stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus counteracts cortical expression of major histocompatibility complex genes in a rat model of Parkinson's disease.

High-frequency stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (STN-HFS) is widely used as therapeutic intervention in patients suffering from advanced Parkinson's disease. STN-HFS exerts a powerful modulatory effect on cortical motor control by orthodromic modulation of basal ganglia outflow and via antidromic activation of corticofugal fibers. However, STN-HFS-induced changes of the sensorimotor cortex are hitherto unexplored. To address this question at a genomic level, we performed mRNA expression analyses using Affymetrix microarray gene chips and real-time RT-PCR in sensorimotor cortex of parkinsonian and control rats following STN-HFS. Experimental parkinsonism was induced in Brown Norway rats by bilateral nigral injections of 6-hydroxydopamine and was assessed histologically, behaviorally, and electrophysiologically. We applied prolonged (23h) unilateral STN-HFS in awake and freely moving animals, with the non-stimulated hemisphere serving as an internal control for gene expression analyses. Gene enrichment analysis revealed strongest regulation in major histocompatibility complex (MHC) related genes. STN-HFS led to a cortical downregulation of several MHC class II (RT1-Da, Db1, Ba, and Cd74) and MHC class I (RT1CE) encoding genes. The same set of genes showed increased expression levels in a comparison addressing the effect of 6-hydroxydopamine lesioning. Hence, our data suggest the possible association of altered microglial activity and synaptic transmission by STN-HFS within the sensorimotor cortex of 6-hydroxydopamine treated rats.

Decomposition of abnormal free locomotor behavior in a rat model of Parkinson's disease.

Poverty of spontaneous movement, slowed execution and reduced amplitudes of movement (akinesia, brady- and hypokinesia) are cardinal motor manifestations of Parkinson's disease that can be modeled in experimental animals by brain lesions affecting midbrain dopaminergic neurons. Most behavioral investigations in experimental parkinsonism have employed short-term observation windows to assess motor impairments. We postulated that an analysis of longer-term free exploratory behavior could provide further insights into the complex fine structure of altered locomotor activity in parkinsonian animals. To this end, we video-monitored 23 h of free locomotor behavior and extracted several behavioral measures before and after the expression of a severe parkinsonian phenotype following bilateral 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA) lesions of the rat dopaminergic substantia nigra. Unbiased stereological cell counting verified the degree of midbrain tyrosine hydroxylase positive cell loss in the substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area. In line with previous reports, overall covered distance and maximal motion speed of lesioned animals were found to be significantly reduced compared to controls. Before lesion surgery, exploratory rat behavior exhibited a bimodal distribution of maximal speed values obtained for single movement episodes, corresponding to a "first" and "second gear" of motion. 6-OHDA injections significantly reduced the incidence of second gear motion episodes and also resulted in an abnormal prolongation of these fast motion events. Likewise, the spatial spread of such episodes was increased in 6-OHDA rats. The increase in curvature of motion tracks was increased in both lesioned and control animals. We conclude that the discrimination of distinct modes of motion by statistical decomposition of longer-term spontaneous locomotion provides useful insights into the fine structure of fluctuating motor functions in a rat analog of Parkinson's disease.

Phosphorylation of the actin binding protein Drebrin at S647 is regulated by neuronal activity and PTEN.

Defects in actin dynamics affect activity-dependent modulation of synaptic transmission and neuronal plasticity, and can cause cognitive impairment. A salient candidate actin-binding protein linking synaptic dysfunction to cognitive deficits is Drebrin (DBN). However, the specific mode of how DBN is regulated at the central synapse is largely unknown. In this study we identify and characterize the interaction of the PTEN tumor suppressor with DBN. Our results demonstrate that PTEN binds DBN and that this interaction results in the dephosphorylation of a site present in the DBN C-terminus--serine 647. PTEN and pS647-DBN segregate into distinct and complimentary compartments in neurons, supporting the idea that PTEN negatively regulates DBN phosphorylation at this site. We further demonstrate that neuronal activity increases phosphorylation of DBN at S647 in hippocampal neurons in vitro and in ex vivo hippocampus slices exhibiting seizure activity, potentially by inducing rapid dissociation of the PTEN:DBN complex. Our results identify a novel mechanism by which PTEN is required to maintain DBN phosphorylation at dynamic range and signifies an unusual regulation of an actin-binding protein linked to cognitive decline and degenerative conditions at the CNS synapse.

Enterocytes' tight junctions: From molecules to diseases.

Tight junctions (TJs) are structures between cells where cells appear in the closest possible contact. They are responsible for sealing compartments when epithelial sheets are generated. They regulate the permeability of ions, (macro) molecules and cells via the paracellular pathway. Their structure at the electron microscopic level has been well known since the 1970s; however, only recently has their macromolecular composition been revealed. This review first examines the major macromolecular components of the TJs (occludin, claudins, junctional adhesion molecule and tricellulin) and then the associated macromolecules at the intracellular plaque [zonula occludens (ZO)-1, ZO-2, ZO-3, AF-6, cingulin, 7H6]. Emphasis is given to their interactions in order to begin to understand the mode of assembly of TJs. The functional significance of TJs is detailed and several mechanisms and factors involved are discussed briefly. Emphasis is given to the role of intestinal TJs and the alterations observed or speculated in diverse disease states. Specifically, intestinal TJs may exert a pathogenetic role in intestinal (inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease) and extraintestinal diseases (diabetes type 1, food allergies, autoimmune diseases). Additionally, intestinal TJs may be secondarily disrupted during the course of diverse diseases, subsequently allowing the bacterial translocation phenomenon and promoting the systemic inflammatory response, which is often associated with clinical deterioration. The major questions in the field are highlighted.

Muscarinic receptor activation determines the effects of store-operated Ca(2+)-entry on excitability and energy metabolism in pyramidal neurons.

In various cell types, depletion of intracellular Ca(2+)-stores results in store-operated Ca(2+)-entry (SOCE) across the cellular membrane. However, the effects of SOCE on neuronal membrane excitability and mitochondrial functions in central neurons are not well defined. We investigated such cellular downstream effects in pyramidal neurons of rat organotypic hippocampal slice cultures by applying electrophysiological and fluorescence imaging techniques. We report that SOCE is associated with (i) elevations of Ca(2+)-concentration in individual neuronal mitochondria ([Ca(2+)](m)). In addition, SOCE can result in (ii) hyperpolarizing neuronal membrane currents, (iii) increase in extracellular K(+)-concentration ([K(+)](o)), (iv) mitochondrial membrane depolarization, and (v) changes in intracellular redox state (NAD(P)H and FAD fluorescence), the latter reflecting responses of energy metabolism. These additional downstream effects of SOCE required concomitant muscarinic receptor activation by carbachol or acetylcholine, and were suppressed by agonist washout or application of antagonist, atropine. We conclude that muscarinic receptor activation determines the downstream effects of SOCE on neuronal membrane excitability and energy metabolism. This mechanism might have significant impact on information processing and neurometabolic coupling in central neurons.

Redistribution of astrocytic glutamine synthetase in the hippocampus of chronic epileptic rats.

Glutamine synthetase (GS) is an astrocytic enzyme, which catalyzes the synthesis of glutamine from glutamate and ammonia. In the central nervous system, GS prevents glutamate-dependent excitotoxicity and detoxifies nitrogen. Reduction in both expression and activity of GS was reported in the hippocampus of patients with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), and this reduction has been suggested to contribute to epileptogenesis. In this study, we characterized hippocampal GS expression in the pilocarpine model of TLE in Wistar rats by means of stereology and morphometric analysis. Neither the GS positive cell number nor the GS containing cell volume was found to be altered in different hippocampal subregions of chronic epileptic rats when compared with controls. Instead, redistribution of the enzyme at both intracellular and tissue levels was observed in the epileptic hippocampus; GS was expressed more in proximal astrocytic branches, and GS expressing astrocytic somata was located in closer proximity to vascular walls. These effects were not due to shrinkage of astrocytic processes, as revealed by glial fibrillary acidic protein staining. Our results argue for GS redistribution rather than downregulation in the rat pilocarpine model of TLE. The potential contribution of increased GS perivascular affinity to the pathogenesis of epilepsy is discussed as well.

Slice cultures as a model to study neurovascular coupling and blood brain barrier in vitro.

Proper neuronal functioning depends on a strictly regulated interstitial environment and tight coupling of neuronal and metabolic activity involving adequate vascular responses. These functions take place at the blood brain barrier (BBB) composed of endothelial cells, basal lamina covered with pericytes, and the endfeet of perivascular astrocytes. In conventional in vitro models of the BBB, some of these components are missing. Here we describe a new model system for studying BBB and neurovascular coupling by using confocal microscopy and fluorescence staining protocols in organotypic hippocampal slice cultures. An elaborated network of vessels is retained in culture in spite of the absence of blood flow. Application of calcein-AM either from the interstitial or from the luminal side resulted in different staining patterns indicating the maintenance of a barrier. By contrast, the ethidium derivative MitoSox penetrated perivascular basal lamina and revealed free radical formation in contractile cells embracing the vessels, likely pericytes.