For the purpose of studying the hematoencephalic barrier as it is concerned with silver circulating in the blood stream, silver nitrate was vitally administered to rats in their drinking water over periods of 6 to 8 months. The cerebrum, cerebellum, medulla, area postrema, and choroid plexus were prepared for light and electron microscopy. Silver deposition was found in the perivascular spaces in the choroid plexus, area postrema, in the medulla surrounding the area postrema, and in minute quantities in the cerebrum, cerebellum, and most of the medulla. Two levels of the hematoencephalic barrier were apparently demonstrated in our investigations. The endothelial linings of the vessels in the cerebrum, cerebellum, and medulla constitute the first threshold of the hematoencephalic barrier (specifically here, blood-brain barrier). The cell membranes adjacent to the perivascular spaces form the second threshold, as follows:—the neuroglial cell membranes in the cerebrum, cerebellum, and medulla (blood-brain barrier); the membranes of the neuroglial cells in the area postrema (blood-brain barrier); and the membranes of the epithelial cells of the choroid plexus (blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier). This study deals with silver deposition and does not infer that the penetration of ionic silver, if present in the blood stream, would necessarily be limited to the regions described.
Bleb-like structures were observed to cover the epithelial cell surfaces in the choroid plexus. They may be cellular projections increasing the cell surface area or they may be secretory droplets.