Targeted drug delivery to treat pain and cerebral hypoxia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Limited drug penetration is an obstacle that is often encountered in treatment of central nervous system (CNS) diseases including pain and cerebral hypoxia. Over the past several years, biochemical characteristics of the brain (i.e., tight junction protein complexes at brain barrier sites, expression of influx and efflux transporters) have been shown to be directly involved in determining CNS permeation of therapeutic agents; however, the vast majority of these studies have focused on understanding those mechanisms that prevent drugs from entering the CNS. Recently, this paradigm has shifted toward identifying and characterizing brain targets that facilitate CNS drug delivery. Such targets include the organic anion-transporting polypeptides (OATPs in humans; Oatps in rodents), a family of sodium-independent transporters that are endogenously expressed in the brain and are involved in drug uptake. OATP/Oatp substrates include drugs that are efficacious in treatment of pain and/or cerebral hypoxia (i.e., opioid analgesic peptides, 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase inhibitors). This clearly suggests that OATP/Oatp isoforms are viable transporter targets that can be exploited for optimization of drug delivery to the brain and, therefore, improved treatment of CNS diseases. This review summarizes recent knowledge in this area and emphasizes the potential that therapeutic targeting of OATP/Oatp isoforms may have in facilitating CNS drug delivery and distribution. Additionally, information presented in this review will point to novel strategies that can be used for treatment of pain and cerebral hypoxia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)291-314
Number of pages24
JournalPharmacological Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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