Differential uptake of MRI contrast agents indicates charge-selective blood-brain interface in the crayfish. Academic Article uri icon


  • This study provides a new perspective on the long-standing problem of the nature of the decapod crustacean blood-brain interface. Previous studies of crustacean blood-brain interface permeability have relied on invasive histological, immunohistochemical and electrophysiological techniques, indicating a leaky non-selective blood-brain barrier. The present investigation involves the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a method for non-invasive longitudinal tracking of tracers in real-time. Differential uptake rates of two molecularly distinct MRI contrast agents, namely manganese (Mn(II)) and Magnevist® (Gd-DTPA), were observed and quantified in the crayfish, Cherax destructor. Contrast agents were injected into the pericardium and uptake was observed with longitudinal MRI for approximately 14.5 h. Mn(II) was taken up quickly into neural tissue (within 6.5 min), whereas Gd-DTPA was not taken up into neural tissue and was instead restricted to the intracerebral vasculature or excreted into nearby sinuses. Our results provide evidence for a charge-selective intracerebral blood-brain interface in the crustacean nervous system, a structural characteristic once considered too complex for a lower-order arthropod.

publication date

  • August 2012