The blood-brain barrier (BBB) and the blood-spinal cord barrier (BSCB) are responsible for controlling the microenvironment within neural tissues in humans. These barriers are fundamental to all neurological processes as they provide the extreme nutritional demands of neural tissue, remove wastes, and maintain immune privileged status. Being a semipermeable membrane, both the BBB and BSCB allow the diffusion of certain molecules, whilst restricting others. In amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neurodegenerative diseases, these barriers become hyperpermeable, allowing a wider variety of molecules to pass through leading to more severe and more rapidly progressing disease. The intention of this review is to discuss evidence that BBB hyperpermeability is potentially a disease driving feature in ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases. The various biochemical, physiological, and genomic factors that can influence BBB permeability in ALS and other neurodegenerative diseases are also discussed, in addition to novel therapeutic strategies centred upon the BBB.
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- blood-brain barrier