Blood-brain barrier permeability and bioavailability of a highly potent and/μ-selective opioid receptor antagonist, CTAP: Comparison with morphine

Thomas J. Abbruscato, Sarah A. Thomas, Victor J. Hruby, Thomas P. Davis

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72 Scopus citations


D-Phe-Cys-Tyr-D-Trp-Arg-Thr-Pen-Thr-NH2 (CTAP) is a cyclic, penicillamine-containing octapeptide that is structurally similar to somatostatin and displays greater antagonist potency and selectivity for μ- opioid receptors, compared with the classical μ-selective antagonist D-Phe- Cys-Tyr-D-Trp-Orn-Thr-Pen-Thr-NH2. The aim of this study was to determine whether CTAP can enter the central nervous system (CNS) by crossing either the blood-brain barrier or the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier (CSF) and to characterize the mechanism of CNS entry. CNS entry of [3H]CTAP was compared with that of the vascular space marker [14C]inulin and the μ-agonist [3H]morphine. By using an in situ brain perfusion technique coupled to high- performance liquid chromatographic analysis, greater amounts of radioactivity were detected in the brain or CSF at most time points for [3H]CTAP, compared with [14C]inulin. [3H]CTAP was found to remain predominantly intact in the brain after a 20-min rat brain perfusion (62.8%). CTAP was also stable in the blood and serum of rats (T(1/2) > 500 min), showing that the structure of this peptide offers enzymatic resistance. Additionally, [3H]CTAP was found to be extensively protein-bound to albumin in the perfusion medium (68.2%) and to proteins in rat serum (84.2%). Entry into the brain and CSF was not inhibited by the addition of unlabeled CTAP to the perfusion medium, suggesting that passage into the CNS is most likely through diffusion across the membranes that comprise the blood-brain barrier, rather than by saturable transport. Also, greater amounts of [3H]morphine entered both the brain and CSF after a 20-min brain perfusion, compared with [3H]CTAP. The increased CNS penetration observed for [3H]morphine, compared with [3H]CTAP, is likely due to the increased lipophilicity of morphine, as shown by its higher octanol/saline partition coefficient. Based on the pharmacokinetic profile, CTAP may be a promising μ-selective antagonist that can be used as a treatment for opiate overdose or addiction and also as a pharmacological tool to further understand opioid neurobiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)402-409
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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