Central nervous system (CNS) diseases are emerging as a major issue in an aging society. Although extensive research has focused on the development of CNS drugs, the limited transport of therapeutic agents across the blood–brain barrier (BBB) remains a major challenge. Conventional two-dimensional culture dishes do not recapitulate in vivo physiology and real-time observations of molecular transport are not possible in animal models. Recent advances in engineering techniques have enabled the generation of more physiologically relevant in vitro BBB models, and their applications have expanded from fundamental biological research to practical applications in the pharmaceutical industry. In this article, we provide an overview of recent advances in the development of in vitro BBB models, with a particular focus on the recapitulation of BBB function. The development of biomimetic BBB models is postulated to revolutionize not only fundamental biological studies but also drug screening.
Keywords : Blood–brain barrier; neurovascular unit; in vitro models; physiological relevance; vascular permeability; drug screening