New Paper: Transcranial direct current stimulation transiently increases the blood-brain barrier solute permeability in vivo
Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) is a non-invasive electrical stimulation technique investigated for a broad range of medical and performance indications. Whereas prior studies have focused exclusively on direct neuron polarization, our hypothesis is that tDCS directly modulates endothelial cells leading to transient changes in blood-brain-barrier (BBB) permeability (P) that are highly meaningful for neuronal activity. For this, we developed state-of-the-art imaging and animal models to quantify P to various sized solutes after tDCS treatment. tDCS was administered using a constant current stimulator to deliver a 1mA current to the right frontal cortex of rat (approximately 2 mm posterior to bregma and 2 mm right to sagittal suture) to obtain similar physiological outcome as that in the human tDCS application studies. Sodium fluorescein (MW=376), or FITC-dextrans (20K and 70K), in 1% BSA mammalian Ringer was injected into the rat (SD, 250-300g) cerebral circulation via the ipsilateral carotid artery by a syringe pump at a constant rate of ~3 ml/min. To determine P, multiphoton microscopy with 800-850 nm wavelength laser was applied to take the images from the region of interest (ROI) with proper microvessels, which are 100-200 micron below the pia mater. It shows that the relative increase in P is about 8-fold for small solute, sodium fluorescein, ~35-fold for both intermediate sized (Dex-20k) and large (Dex-70k) solutes, 10 min after 20 min tDCS pretreatment. All of the increased permeability returns to the control after 20 min post treatment. The results confirmed our hypothesis.