Certain junctions between ependymal cells, between astrocytes, and between some electrically coupled neurons have heretofore been regarded as tight, pentalaminar occlusions of the intercellular cleft. These junctions are now redefined in terms of their configuration after treatment of brain tissue in uranyl acetate before dehydration. Instead of a median dense lamina, they are bisected by a median gap 20–30 A wide which is continuous with the rest of the interspace. The patency of these "gap junctions" is further demonstrated by the penetration of horseradish peroxidase or lanthanum into the median gap, the latter tracer delineating there a polygonal substructure. However, either tracer can circumvent gap junctions because they are plaque-shaped rather than complete, circumferential belts. Tight junctions, which retain a pentalaminar appearance after uranyl acetate block treatment, are restricted primarily to the endothelium of parenchymal capillaries and the epithelium of the choroid plexus. They form rows of extensive, overlapping occlusions of the interspace and are neither circumvented nor penetrated by peroxidase and lanthanum. These junctions are morphologically distinguishable from the "labile" pentalaminar appositions which appear or disappear according to the preparative method and which do not interfere with the intercellular movement of tracers. Therefore, the interspaces of the brain are generally patent, allowing intercellular movement of colloidal materials. Endothelial and epithelial tight junctions occlude the interspaces between blood and parenchyma or cerebral ventricles, thereby constituting a structural basis for the blood-brain and blood-cerebrospinal fluid barriers.

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