SMI 71 is specific for a rat endothelial protein found in areas with blood-brain or blood-nerve barriers. The antibody does not react with endothelia of periventricular organs or with fenestrated endothelia in peripheral tissues. Specifically, it has been shown that staining with SMI 71 is not observed in blood vessels and sinusoids in the liver, vessels in the heart, adrenal, skeletal muscle, intestine, thymus, lymph nodes, pancreas, thyroid, or skin. However, a patchy reaction was observed on some vessel walls of the spleen and epidermis of the skin3. Reactivity with the antibody develops in newborn rats along with maturation of the blood brain barrier. Reactivity disappears in lesions of experimental allergic encephalomyelitis. Contrary to the belief that astrocytes and perhaps neurons are essential for the establishment of the blood-brain barrier, destruction of neurons (monitored by SMI 311 and anti-MAP2) and of astrocytes (monitored by anti-GFAP and anti-S100B) leads only to transient abolition of SMI 71 reactivity and only transient transendothelial passage of serum albumin.
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