Introduction: Hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is a neuropsychiatric disorder, a major complication of chronic liver disease (CLD). Hyperammonemia is central in the pathogenesis of HE as ammonia easily crosses the blood brain barrier (BBB) causing toxicity. Glutamine synthetase (GS), an enzyme which removes ammonia, plays an important compensatory role during CLD and is known to be expressed in muscle and brain. However, its expression in endothelial cells (EC) of the BBB has never been explored. Methods: GS protein and activity was assessed in 1) rat brain microvascular EC (+/- ammonia exposure and conditioned media from rats with CLD) and 2) isolated cerebral microvessels (CMV) from naïve rats. Results: GS was co-localized with EC in brain of naïve rats. GS protein and activity was detected in CMV, with less activity compared to brain (p<0.05). In vitro, EC expressed GS protein with activity, but lower compared to brain (p<0.05). EC exposed to ammonia resulted in increased GS activity (p<0.05). However, ECs exposed to plasma from CLD rats had lower GS activity and protein expression compared to controls (p<0.05). Conclusion: We demonstrate for the first time the presence of GS in EC. Stimulated by ammonia, GS is however reduced with conditioned plasma from hyperammonemic CLD rats. This suggests other factors such as oxidative stress (present in CLD) could lead to GS inhibition. We speculate a downregulation of GS in the BBB during CLD leads to rapid entry of ammonia into the brain and HE. Therefore upregulating GS in the BBB could become a new therapeutic target for HE.