Although several in vitro models have been reported to predict the ability of drug candidates to cross the blood-brain barrier, their real in vivo relevance has rarely been evaluated. The present study demonstrates the in vivo relevance of simple unidirectional permeability coefficient (P(app)) determined in three in vitro cell models (BBMEC, Caco-2 and MDCKII-MDR1) for nine model drugs (alprenolol, atenolol, metoprolol, pindolol, entacapone, tolcapone, baclofen, midazolam and ondansetron) by using dual probe microdialysis in the rat brain and blood as an in vivo measure. There was a clear correlation between the P(app) and the unbound brain/blood ratios determined by in vivo microdialysis (BBMEC r=0.99, Caco-2 r=0.91 and MDCKII-MDR1 r=0.85). Despite of the substantial differences in the absolute in vitro P(app) values and regardless of the method used (side-by-side vs. filter insert system), the capability of the in vitro models to rank order drugs was similar. By this approach, thus, the additional value offered by the true endothelial cell model (BBMEC) remains obscure. The present results also highlight the need of both in vitro as well as in vivo methods in characterization of blood-brain barrier passage of new drug candidates.
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