Epileptic seizures increase circulating endothelial cells in peripheral blood as early indicators of cerebral vascular damage

Helena Parfenova, Charles W. Leffler, Dilyara Tcheranova, Shyamali Basuroy, Aliz Zimmermann


Circulating endothelial cells (CECs) are nonhematopoetic mononuclear cells in peripheral blood that are dislodged from injured vessels during cardiovascular disease, systemic vascular disease, and inflammation. Their occurrence during cerebrovascular insults has not been previously described. Epileptic seizures cause the long-term loss of cerebrovascular endothelial dilator function. We hypothesized that seizures cause endothelial sloughing from cerebral vessels and the appearance of brain-derived CECs (BCECs), possible early indicators of cerebral vascular damage. Epileptic seizures were induced by bicuculline in newborn pigs; venous blood was then sampled during a 4-h period. CECs were identified in the fraction of peripheral blood mononuclear cells by the expression of endothelial antigens (CD146, CD31, and endothelial nitric oxide synthase) and by Ulex europeaus lectin binding. In control animals, few CECs were detected. Seizures caused a time-dependent increase in CECs 2–4 h after seizure onset. Seizure-induced CECs coexpress glucose transporter-1, a blood-brain barrier-specific glucose transporter, indicating that these cells originate in the brain vasculature and are thus BCECs. Seizure-induced BCECs cultured in EC media exhibited low proliferative potential and abnormal cell contacts. BCEC appearance during seizures was blocked by a CO-releasing molecule (CORM-A1) or cobalt protoporphyrin (heme oxygenase-1 inducer), which prevented apoptosis in cerebral arterioles and the loss of cerebral vascular endothelial function during the late postictal period. These findings suggest that seizure-induced BCECs are injured ECs dislodged from cerebral microvessels during seizures. The correlation between the appearance of BCECs in peripheral blood, apoptosis in cerebral vessels, and the loss of postictal cerebral vascular function suggests that BCECs are early indicators of late cerebral vascular damage.

  • cerebral vascular endothelium
  • cerebral vascular injury
  • postictal period
  • peripheral blood mononuclear cells
  • carbon monoxide-releasing molecule
  • CORM-A1
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