Central nervous system (CNS) drug delivery can be achieved by targeting drug uptake transporters such as Oatp1a4. In fact, many drugs that can improve neurologic outcomes in CNS diseases [3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl-CoA reductase inhibitors (i.e., statins)] are organic anion transporting polypeptide (OATP) transport substrates. To date, transport properties and regulatory mechanisms of Oatp1a4 at the blood-brain barrier (BBB) have not been rigorously studied. Such knowledge is critical to develop Oatp1a4 for optimization of CNS drug delivery and for improved treatment of neurological diseases. Our laboratory has demonstrated that the transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β)/activin receptor-like kinase 1 (ALK1) signaling agonist bone morphogenetic protein 9 (BMP-9) increases functional expression of Oatp1a4 in rat brain microvessels. Here, we expand on this work and show that BMP-9 treatment increases blood-to-brain transport and brain exposure of established OATP transport substrates (i.e., taurocholate, atorvastatin, and pravastatin). We also demonstrate that BMP-9 activates the TGF-β/ALK1 pathway in brain microvessels as indicated by increased nuclear translocation of specific Smad proteins associated with signaling mediated by the ALK1 receptor (i.e., pSmad1/5/8). Furthermore, we report that an activated Smad protein complex comprised of phosphorylated Smad1/5/8 and Smad4 is formed following BMP-9 treatment and binds to the promoter of the Slco1a4 gene (i.e., the gene that encodes Oatp1a4). This signaling mechanism causes increased expression of Slco1a4 mRNA. Overall, this study provides evidence that Oatp1a4 transport activity at the BBB is directly regulated by TGF-β/ALK1 signaling and indicates that this pathway can be targeted for control of CNS delivery of OATP substrate drugs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Medicine