Function of the blood-brain barrier and restriction of drug delivery to invasive glioma cells: findings in an orthotopic rat xenograft model of glioma

Sagar Agarwal, Pooja Manchanda, Michael A Vogelbaum, John R Ohlfest, William F Elmquist
Drug Metabolism and Disposition: the Biological Fate of Chemicals 2013, 41 (1): 33-9
Despite aggressive treatment with radiation and chemotherapy, recurrence of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is inevitable. The objective of this study was to show that the blood-brain barrier (BBB), through a combination of tight junctions and active efflux transporters in the brain microvasculature, can significantly restrict delivery of molecularly targeted agents to invasive glioma cells. Transgenic mice lacking P-glycoprotein (P-gp) and breast cancer resistance protein (Bcrp) were used to study efflux of erlotinib at the BBB. A U87 rat xenograft model of GBM was used to investigate the regional distribution of erlotinib to the tumor, and brain regions surrounding the tumor. The effect of concurrent administration of elacridar on regional tumor distribution of erlotinib was evaluated. We show that erlotinib transport across an intact BBB is significantly restricted due to P-gp- and Bcrp-mediated efflux transport. We then show that the BBB is sufficiently intact in areas of brain adjacent to the tumor core to significantly restrict erlotinib delivery. Inhibition of P-gp and Bcrp by the dual inhibitor elacridar dramatically increased erlotinib delivery to the tumor core, rim, and normal brain. These results provide conclusive evidence of the impact that active efflux at the BBB has on the delivery of molecularly targeted therapy to different tumor regions in glioma. These data also support the possibility that the repeated failure of clinical trials of new drugs for gliomas may be in part due to a failure to achieve effective concentrations in invasive tumor cells that reside behind an intact BBB.

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