Changes in the permeability of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and blood-cerebrospinal fluid (blood-CSF) barrier in rabbits were assessed by using a sensitive double isotope technique at different times after the induction of acute immune complex disease (AICD). Induction of AICD was done with a single large dose of bovine serum albumin, whereas controls received only saline. Animals were sacrificed 6, 9, 12, 15, and 18 days after induction. Extravasation of protein was measured by injecting rabbits i.v. with 131I-rabbit serum albumin (RSA) 24 hr before sacrifice. In order to correct for intravascular blood volume, 125I-RSA was injected 5 min before sacrifice. Extravascular blood equivalents (EVBE), a measure of barrier permeability, were elevated in the CSF of rabbits sacrificed on days 12 and 15. None of the brain regions from any of the animal groups showed any changes or significant differences from controls in EVBE values on these days. These results indicate that there was an increase in the permeability of the blood-CSF barrier to radiolabeled albumin but not in the BBB proper during the time that CSF IgG levels were elevated in AICD. The potential significance of these findings for the mechanisms mediating central nervous system involvement in systemic lupus erythematosus is discussed.

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