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What is the blood-brain barrier? © Getty Images

What is the blood-brain barrier?

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The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is a semi-permeable membrane that separates the blood and the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and it's an essential part of the brain.

Asked by: Philip Boylan, by email


The blood-brain barrier (BBB) exists to protect the brain from infection and to isolate it from hormones and neurotransmitters used in the rest of the body. It prevents bacteria and large molecules from reaching brain cells, but it is by no means a complete barricade. Oxygen, CO2, water and glucose are all able to pass through the BBB. Fat-soluble drugs, like barbiturates, are also able to cross it.


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Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


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