Transport Mechanisms at the Blood–Brain Barrier and in Cellular Compartments of the Neurovascular Unit: Focus on CNS Delivery of Small Molecule Drugs

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Abstract

Ischemic stroke is a primary origin of morbidity and mortality in the United States and around the world. Indeed, several research projects have attempted to discover new drugs or repurpose existing therapeutics to advance stroke pharmacotherapy. Many of these preclinical stroke studies have reported positive results for neuroprotective agents; however, only one compound (3K3A-activated protein C (3K3A-APC)) has advanced to Phase III clinical trial evaluation. One reason for these many failures is the lack of consideration of transport mechanisms at the blood–brain barrier (BBB) and neurovascular unit (NVU). These endogenous transport processes function as a “gateway” that is a primary determinant of efficacious brain concentrations for centrally acting drugs. Despite the knowledge that some neuroprotective agents (i.e., statins and memantine) are substrates for these endogenous BBB transporters, preclinical stroke studies have largely ignored the role of transporters in CNS drug disposition. Here, we review the current knowledge on specific BBB transporters that either limit drug uptake into the brain (i.e., ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters) or can be targeted for optimized drug delivery (i.e., solute carrier (SLC) transporters). Additionally, we highlight the current knowledge on transporter expression in astrocytes, microglia, pericytes, and neurons with an emphasis on transport mechanisms in these cell types that can influence drug distribution within the brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1501
JournalPharmaceutics
Volume14
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Keywords

  • ATP-binding cassette transporters
  • SLC transporters
  • blood–brain barrier
  • drug delivery
  • ischemic stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science

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