Characterisation of the brain multidrug resistance protein (BMDP/ABCG2/BCRP) expressed at the blood-brain barrier

Brain Res. 2003 May 9;971(2):221-31. doi: 10.1016/s0006-8993(03)02401-6.


The blood-brain barrier (BBB) plays the predominant role in controlling the passage of endogenous and xenobiotic substances between the circulating blood and the extracellular fluid environment of the brain. The transfer of compounds is strictly regulated by brain capillary endothelial cells (BCEC), which are interconnected to each other by well developed tight junctions, without fenestrations. Although hydrophobic molecules such as nicotine and ethanol readily cross the BBB by diffusion, the brain microvasculature shows a highly restrictive permeability to hydrophobic antitumor agents. So far, this multidrug resistance has been almost exclusively attributed to the most prominent member of the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter family, P-glycoprotein located in the luminal membrane of brain capillary endothelial cells and to a minor extent to the multidrug resistance-associated proteins (MRPs). The brain multidrug resistance protein (BMDP) has recently been discovered at the porcine BBB and was shown to be highly homologous to the human breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP/ABCG2). Here, we demonstrate by northern blot and RT-PCR analysis that BMDP mRNA is more highly expressed in the capillary endothelial cells compared to other cell types of the brain. Immunocytochemistry of porcine BCEC showed a clear plasma membrane localisation of BMDP. Analysis of the total mRNA pool revealed that BMDP is more strongly expressed than P-glycoprotein and MRP1. Consistently, first transport studies indicate that active exclusion of the chemotherapeutic drug daunorubicin from the central nervous system is mediated mainly by this new transporter compared to P-glycoprotein or MRP1. Thus, we hypothesise that BMDP might play an important role in the exclusion of xenobiotics from the porcine brain.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B / genetics
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B / metabolism*
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / metabolism
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily G, Member 2
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / physiology*
  • Blotting, Northern / methods
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Daunorubicin / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Gene Expression*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins / drug effects
  • Neoplasm Proteins*
  • RNA / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Swine
  • Time Factors
  • Tritium / metabolism


  • ABCG2 protein, human
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily G, Member 2
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Tritium
  • RNA
  • multidrug resistance-associated protein 1
  • Daunorubicin