Bio

Professional Education


  • Doctor of Philosophy, J W Goethe Universitat Frankfurt (2013)
  • Diplom, J W Goethe Universitat Frankfurt (2008)
  • Vordiplom, J W Goethe Universitat Frankfurt (2004)

Stanford Advisors


Publications

Journal Articles


  • In vitro models of the blood-brain barrier. Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) Czupalla, C. J., Liebner, S., Devraj, K. 2014; 1135: 415-437

    Abstract

    The blood-brain barrier (BBB) proper is composed of endothelial cells (ECs) of the cerebral microvasculature, which are interconnected by tight junctions (TJs) that in turn form a physical barrier restricting paracellular flux. Tight control of vascular permeability is essential for the homeostasis and functionality of the central nervous system (CNS). In vitro BBB models have been in use for decades and have been of great benefit in the process of investigating and understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying BBB establishment. BBB integrity changes can be addressed in vitro by determining cell monolayer permeability (Pe) to different solutes and measuring trans-endothelial electrical resistance (TEER).This chapter describes procedures that can be utilized for both freshly isolated mouse brain microvascular ECs (MBMECs) and murine or human brain EC lines (bEnd5 or hCMEC/D3), cultivated either as a single monolayer or in cocultivation with primary mouse astrocytes (ACs). It starts with detailed information on how to perform transwell cell culture, including coating of inserts and seeding of the ECs and ACs. Moreover, it encompasses instructions for electrical assessment of the in vitro BBB using the more recent cellZscope(®) device, which was traditionally performed with chopstick electrodes of voltohmmeter type (EVOM). From continuous impedance measurements, the cellZscope(®) device provides TEER (paracellular resistance) and cell membrane capacitance (Ccl-transcellular resistance), two independent measures of monolayer integrity. Additionally, this chapter provides guidance through subsequent experiments such as permeability analysis (Pe, flux), expression analysis (qRT-PCR and Western blotting), and localization analysis of BBB junction proteins (immunocytochemistry) using the same inserts subjected earlier to impedance analysis.As numerous diseases are associated with BBB breakdown, researchers aim to continuously improve and refine in vitro BBB models to mimic in vivo conditions as closely as possible. This chapter summarizes protocols with the intention to provide a collection of BBB in vitro assays that generate reproducible results not only with primary brain ECs but also with EC lines to open up the field for a broader spectrum of researchers who intend to investigate the BBB in vitro particularly aiming at therapeutic aspects.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/978-1-4939-0320-7_34

    View details for PubMedID 24510883

  • Tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily member 9 (TNFRSF9) is up-regulated in reactive astrocytes in human gliomas. Neuropathology and applied neurobiology Blank, A. E., Baumgarten, P., Zeiner, P., Zachskorn, C., Löffler, C., Schittenhelm, J., Czupalla, C. J., Capper, D., Plate, K. H., Harter, P. N., Mittelbronn, M. 2014

    Abstract

    The prognosis of patients with malignant gliomas is still dismal despite maximum treatment. Novel therapeutic alternatives targeting tumorigenic pathways are, therefore, demanded. In murine glioma models, targeting of tumor necrosis factor receptor superfamily (TNFRSF) 9 led to complete tumor eradication. Thus, TNFRSF9 might also constitute a promising target in human diffuse gliomas. Since there is a lack of data, we aimed to define the expression pattern and cellular source of TNFRSF9 in human gliomas.We investigated TNFRSF9 expression in normal human CNS tissue and glioma specimens using immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence and western blotting techniques.Our results show that TNFRSF9 is considerably upregulated in human gliomas when compared to normal brain tissue. In addition, our data provides evidence for an immune cell-independent de novo expression pattern of TNFRSF9 in mainly non-neoplastic reactive astrocytes and excludes classic immunological cell types, namely lymphocytes and microglia as the source of TNFRSF9. Moreover, TNFRSF9 is predominantly expressed in a perivascular and peri-tumoral distribution with significantly higher expression in IDH1 mutant gliomas.Our findings provide a novel, TNFRSF9-positive, reactive astrocytic phenotype and challenge the therapeutic suitability of TNFRSF9 as a promising target for human gliomas.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/nan.12135

    View details for PubMedID 24606203

  • Wnt Activation of Immortalized Brain Endothelial Cells as a Tool for Generating a Standardized Model of the Blood Brain Barrier In Vitro PLOS ONE Paolinelli, R., Corada, M., Ferrarini, L., Devraj, K., Artus, C., Czupalla, C. J., Rudini, N., Maddaluno, L., Papa, E., Engelhardt, B., Couraud, P. O., Liebner, S., Dejana, E. 2013; 8 (8)

    Abstract

    Reproducing the characteristics and the functional responses of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in vitro represents an important task for the research community, and would be a critical biotechnological breakthrough. Pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries provide strong demand for inexpensive and easy-to-handle in vitro BBB models to screen novel drug candidates. Recently, it was shown that canonical Wnt signaling is responsible for the induction of the BBB properties in the neonatal brain microvasculature in vivo. In the present study, following on from earlier observations, we have developed a novel model of the BBB in vitro that may be suitable for large scale screening assays. This model is based on immortalized endothelial cell lines derived from murine and human brain, with no need for co-culture with astrocytes. To maintain the BBB endothelial cell properties, the cell lines are cultured in the presence of Wnt3a or drugs that stabilize β-catenin, or they are infected with a transcriptionally active form of β-catenin. Upon these treatments, the cell lines maintain expression of BBB-specific markers, which results in elevated transendothelial electrical resistance and reduced cell permeability. Importantly, these properties are retained for several passages in culture, and they can be reproduced and maintained in different laboratories over time. We conclude that the brain-derived endothelial cell lines that we have investigated gain their specialized characteristics upon activation of the canonical Wnt pathway. This model may be thus suitable to test the BBB permeability to chemicals or large molecular weight proteins, transmigration of inflammatory cells, treatments with cytokines, and genetic manipulation.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0070233

    View details for Web of Science ID 000324465000043

    View details for PubMedID 23940549

  • Endothelial Wnt/beta-catenin signaling inhibits glioma angiogenesis and normalizes tumor blood vessels by inducing PDGF-B expression JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL MEDICINE Reis, M., Czupalla, C. J., Ziegler, N., Devraj, K., Zinke, J., Seidel, S., Heck, R., Thom, S., Macas, J., Bockamp, E., Fruttiger, M., Taketo, M. M., Dimmeler, S., Plate, K. H., Liebner, S. 2012; 209 (9): 1611-1627

    Abstract

    Endothelial Wnt/β-catenin signaling is necessary for angiogenesis of the central nervous system and blood-brain barrier (BBB) differentiation, but its relevance for glioma vascularization is unknown. In this study, we show that doxycycline-dependent Wnt1 expression in subcutaneous and intracranial mouse glioma models induced endothelial Wnt/β-catenin signaling and led to diminished tumor growth, reduced vascular density, and normalized vessels with increased mural cell attachment. These findings were corroborated in GL261 glioma cells intracranially transplanted in mice expressing dominant-active β-catenin specifically in the endothelium. Enforced endothelial β-catenin signaling restored BBB characteristics, whereas inhibition by Dkk1 (Dickkopf-1) had opposing effects. By overactivating the Wnt pathway, we induced the Wnt/β-catenin-Dll4/Notch signaling cascade in tumor endothelia, blocking an angiogenic and favoring a quiescent vascular phenotype, indicated by induction of stalk cell genes. We show that β-catenin transcriptional activity directly regulated endothelial expression of platelet-derived growth factor B (PDGF-B), leading to mural cell recruitment thereby contributing to vascular quiescence and barrier function. We propose that reinforced Wnt/β-catenin signaling leads to inhibition of angiogenesis with normalized and less permeable vessels, which might prove to be a valuable therapeutic target for antiangiogenic and edema glioma therapy.

    View details for DOI 10.1084/jem.20111580

    View details for Web of Science ID 000308423900008

    View details for PubMedID 22908324

  • Current concepts of blood-brain barrier development INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY Liebner, S., Czupalla, C. J., Wolburg, H. 2011; 55 (4-5): 467-476

    Abstract

    Homeostasis of the central nervous system (CNS) microenvironment is essential for its normal function and is maintained by the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The BBB proper is made up of endothelial cells (ECs) interconnected by tight junctions (TJs) that reveal a unique morphology and biochemical composition of the body's vasculature. In this article, we focus on developmental aspects of the BBB and describe morphological as well as molecular special features of the neuro-vascular unit (NVU) involved in barrier induction. Recently, we and others identified the Wnt/b-catenin pathway as crucial for brain angiogenesis, TJ and BBB formation. Based on these findings we discuss other pathways and molecular interactions for BBB establishment and maintenance. At the morphological level, our concept favors a major role for polarized astrocytes (ACs) therein. Orthogonal arrays of particles (OAPs) that are the morphological correlate of the water channel protein aquaporin-4 (AQP4) are specifically formed in the membrane of the AC endfoot. The polarized AC endfoot and hence OAPs are dependent on agrin and dystroglycan, of which agrin is a developmentally regulated extracellular matrix (ECM) component. Understanding the mechanisms leading to BBB development will be key to the understanding of barrier maintenance that is crucial for, but frequently disturbed, in the diseased adult brain.

    View details for DOI 10.1387/ijdb.103224sl

    View details for Web of Science ID 000295748300016

    View details for PubMedID 21769778

  • Sonic Hedgehog Acts as a Negative Regulator of beta-Catenin Signaling in the Adult Tongue Epithelium AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PATHOLOGY Schneider, F. T., Schaenzer, A., Czupalla, C. J., Thom, S., Engels, K., Schmidt, M. H., Plate, K. H., Liebner, S. 2010; 177 (1): 404-414

    Abstract

    Wnt/beta-catenin signaling has been implicated in taste papilla development; however, its role in epithelial maintenance and tumor progression in the adult tongue remains elusive. We show Wnt/beta-catenin pathway activation in reporter mice and by nuclear beta-catenin staining in the epithelium and taste papilla of adult mouse and human tongues. beta-Catenin activation in APC(min/+) mice, which carry a mutation in adenomatous poliposis coli (APC), up-regulates Sonic hedgehog (Shh) and Jagged-2 (JAG2) in the tongue epithelium without formation of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). We demonstrate that Shh suppresses beta-catenin transcriptional activity in a signaling-dependent manner in vitro and in vivo. A similar regulation and function was observed for JAG2, suggesting that both pathways negatively regulate beta-catenin, thereby preventing SCC formation in the tongue. This was supported by reduced nuclear beta-catenin in the tongue epithelium of Patched(+/-) mice, exhibiting dominant active Shh signaling. At the invasive front of human tongue cancer, nuclear beta-catenin and Shh were increased, suggesting their participation in tumor progression. Interestingly, Shh but not JAG2 was able to reduce beta-catenin signaling in SCC cells, arguing for a partial loss of negative feedback on beta-catenin transcription in tongue cancer. We show for the first time that the putative Wnt/beta-catenin targets Shh and JAG2 control beta-catenin signaling in the adult tongue epithelium, a function that is partially lost in lingual SCC.

    View details for DOI 10.2353/ajpath.2010.091079

    View details for Web of Science ID 000279805100041

    View details for PubMedID 20508033

  • Wnt/beta-catenin signaling controls development of the blood-brain barrier JOURNAL OF CELL BIOLOGY Liebner, S., Corada, M., Bangsow, T., Babbage, J., Taddei, A., Czupalla, C. J., Reis, M., Felici, A., Wolburg, H., Fruttiger, M., Taketo, M. M., von Melchner, H., Plate, K. H., Gerhardt, H., Dejana, E. 2008; 183 (3): 409-417

    Abstract

    The blood-brain barrier (BBB) is confined to the endothelium of brain capillaries and is indispensable for fluid homeostasis and neuronal function. In this study, we show that endothelial Wnt/beta-catenin (beta-cat) signaling regulates induction and maintenance of BBB characteristics during embryonic and postnatal development. Endothelial specific stabilization of beta-cat in vivo enhances barrier maturation, whereas inactivation of beta-cat causes significant down-regulation of claudin3 (Cldn3), up-regulation of plamalemma vesicle-associated protein, and BBB breakdown. Stabilization of beta-cat in primary brain endothelial cells (ECs) in vitro by N-terminal truncation or Wnt3a treatment increases Cldn3 expression, BBB-type tight junction formation, and a BBB characteristic gene signature. Loss of beta-cat or inhibition of its signaling abrogates this effect. Furthermore, stabilization of beta-cat also increased Cldn3 and barrier properties in nonbrain-derived ECs. These findings may open new therapeutic avenues to modulate endothelial barrier function and to limit the devastating effects of BBB breakdown.

    View details for DOI 10.1083/jcb.200806024

    View details for Web of Science ID 000261060200009

    View details for PubMedID 18955553

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