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Luca Marchetti and Britta Engelhardt

To maintain the homeostatic environment required for proper function of CNS neurons the endothelial cells of CNS microvessels tightly regulate the movement of ions and molecules between the blood and the CNS. The unique properties of these blood vascular endothelial cells are termed blood-brain barrier (BBB) and extend to regulating immune cell trafficking into the immune privileged CNS during health and disease. In general, extravasation of circulating immune cells is a multi-step process regulated by the sequential interaction of adhesion and signalling molecules between the endothelial cells and the immune cells. Accounting for the unique barrier properties of CNS microvessels, immune cell migration across the BBB is distinct and characterized by several adaptations. Here we describe the mechanisms that regulate immune cell trafficking across the BBB during immune surveillance and neuroinflammation, with a focus on the current state-of-the-art in vitro and in vivo imaging observations.