Blood-brain and retinal barriers show dissimilar ABC transporter impacts and concealed effect of P-glycoprotein on a novel verapamil influx carrier

Hélène Chapy, Bruno Saubaméa, Nicolas Tournier, Fanchon Bourasset, Francine Behar-Cohen, Xavier Declèves, Jean-Michel Scherrmann, Salvatore Cisternino
British Journal of Pharmacology 2016, 173 (3): 497-510

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The respective impact and interplay between ABC (P-glycoprotein/P-gp/Abcb1a, BCRP/ABCG2, MRP/ABCC) and SLC transporter functions at the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and blood-retinal barriers (BRB) are incompletely understood.

EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH: We measured the initial cerebral and retinal distribution of selected ABC substrates by in situ carotid perfusion using P-gp/Bcrp knockout mice and chemical ABC/SLC modulation strategies. P-gp, Bcrp, Mrp1 and Mrp4 were studied by confocal retina imaging.

KEY RESULTS: Chemical or physical disruption of P-gp increased [(3) H]-verapamil transport by ~10-fold at the BBB and ~1.5-fold at the BRB. [(3) H]-Verapamil transport involved influx-mediated by an organic cation clonidine-sensitive/diphenhydramine-sensitive proton antiporter at both barriers; this effect was unmasked when P-gp was partially or fully inhibited/disrupted at the BBB. Studies of [(3) H]-mitoxantrone and [(3) H]-zidovudine transport suggested, respectively, that Bcrp efflux was less involved at the BRB than BBB, whereas Mrps were significantly and similarly involved at both barriers. Confocal imaging showed that P-gp and Bcrp were expressed in intra-retinal vessels (inner BRB/iBRB) but absent from the blood/basal membrane of cells of the retinal pigment epithelium (outer BRB/oBRB/RPE) where, in contrast, Mrp1 and Mrp4 were localized.

CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: P-gp, Bcrp, Mrp1 and Mrp4 are differentially expressed at the outer and inner BRB, resulting in an altered ability to limit substrate distribution at the retina as compared with the BBB. [(3) H]-Verapamil distribution is not P-gp-specific and involves a proton antiporter at both the BBB and BRB. However, this transport is concealed by P-gp at the BBB, but not at the BRB, where P-gp activity is reduced.

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