Novel intrinsic mechanisms of active drug extrusion at the blood-brain barrier : Potential targets for enhancing drug delivery to the brain?
The blood-brain barrier (BBB) limits the pharmacotherapy of several brain disorders. In addition to the structural and metabolic characteristics of the BBB, the ATP-driven, drug efflux transporter P-glycoprotein (Pgp) is a selective gatekeeper of the BBB; thus, it is a primary hindrance to drug delivery into the brain. Here, we review the complex regulation of Pgp expression and functional activity at the BBB with an emphasis on recent studies from our laboratory. In addition to traditional processes such as transcriptional regulation and posttranscriptional or posttranslational modification of Pgp expression and functionality, novel mechanisms such as intra- and intercellular Pgp trafficking and intracellular Pgp-mediated lysosomal sequestration in BBB endothelial cells with subsequent disposal by blood neutrophils are discussed. These intrinsic mechanisms of active drug extrusion at the BBB are potential therapeutic targets that could be used to modulate P-glycoprotein activity in the treatment of brain diseases and enhance drug delivery to the brain.