The arachnoid membrane (AM) and granulations (AGs) are important in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) homeostasis, regulating intracranial pressure in health and disease. We offer a functional perspective of the human AM's transport mechanism to clarify the role of AM in the movement of CSF and metabolites. Using cultures of human AG cells and a specialized perfusion system, we have shown that this in vitro model mimics the in vivo characteristics of unidirectional fluid transport and we present the first report of serum-free permeability values (92.5 microl min(-1) mm Hg(-1) cm(-2)), which in turn are in agreement with the CSF outflow rates derived from a dynamic, in vivo magnetic resonance imaging-based computational model of the subarachnoid cranial space (130.9 microl min(-1) mm Hg(-1) cm(-2)). Lucifer yellow permeability experiments have verified the maintenance of tight junctions by the arachnoidal cells with a peak occurring around 21 days post-seeding, which is when all perfusion experiments were conducted. Addition of ruthenium red to the perfusate, and subsequent analysis of its distribution post-perfusion, has verified the passage of perfusate via both paracellular and transcellular mechanisms with intracellular vacuoles of approximately 1 microm in diameter being the predominant transport mechanism. The comparison of the computational and in vitro models is the first report to measure human CSF dynamics functionally and structurally, enabling the development of innovative approaches to modify CSF outflow and will change concepts and management of neurodegenerative diseases resulting from CSF stagnation.
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