Blood-brain barrier dysfunction and decreased transcription of tight junction proteins in epileptic dogs

Erez Hanael, Shelly Baruch, Rotem Kalev Altman, Orit Chai, Kira Rapoport, Dana Peery, Alon Friedman, Merav H. Shamir*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Epilepsy in dogs and humans is associated with blood-brain barrier (BBB) dysfunction (BBBD), which may involve dysfunction of tight junction (TJ) proteins, matrix metalloproteases, and astrocytes. Imaging techniques to assess BBB integrity, to identify potential treatment strategies, have not yet been evaluated in veterinary medicine. Hypothesis: Some dogs with idiopathic epilepsy (IE) will exhibit BBBD. Identifying BBBD may improve antiepileptic treatment in the future. Animals: Twenty-seven dogs with IE and 10 healthy controls. Methods: Retrospective, prospective cohort study. Blood-brain barrier permeability (BBBP) scores were calculated for the whole brain and piriform lobe of all dogs by using dynamic contrast enhancement (DCE) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and subtraction enhancement analysis (SEA). Matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP9) activity in serum and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) was measured and its expression in the piriform lobe was examined using immunofluorescent staining. Gene expression of TJ proteins and astrocytic transporters was analyzed in the piriform lobe. Results: The DCE-MRI analysis of the piriform lobe identified higher BBBP score in the IE group when compared with controls (34.5% vs 26.5%; P =.02). Activity and expression of MMP9 were increased in the serum, CSF, and piriform lobe of IE dogs as compared with controls. Gene expression of Kir4.1 and claudin-5 in the piriform lobe of IE dogs was significantly lower than in control dogs. Conclusions and Clinical Importance: Our findings demonstrate BBBD in dogs with IE and were supported by increased MMP9 activity and downregulation of astrocytic potassium channels and some TJ proteins. Blood brain barrier dysfunction may be a novel antiepileptic therapy target.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Veterinary Internal Medicine
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Authors. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.


  • blood-brain barrier
  • claudin 5
  • CNS disorders
  • epilepsy
  • Kir 4.1
  • MMP9
  • neurology
  • tight junction


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