Assessment of ABCG2-mediated transport of xenobiotics across the blood-milk barrier of dairy animals using a new MDCKII in vitro model

Arch Toxicol. 2013 Sep;87(9):1671-82. doi: 10.1007/s00204-013-1066-9. Epub 2013 May 8.


The ATP-binding cassette (ABC) efflux transporter ABCG2 represents the main route for active secretion of drugs and toxins across the blood-milk barrier, thereby producing a potential health risk for dairy consumers through formation of relevant residues in milk. However, no suitable in vitro model is as yet available to systematically investigate ABCG2-mediated transport of xenobiotics into milk of dairy animals. We recently cloned ABCG2 from the lactating mammary gland of dairy cows (bABCG2) and goats (cABCG2). Thus, the objective of this study was to generate a suitable blood-milk barrier in vitro model using polarized MDCKII monolayers stably expressing mammary bABCG2 or cABCG2. ABCG2 protein was localized by confocal microscopy to the apical and lateral plasma membrane of polarized MDCKII cells. Intact barrier function of MDCKII-bABCG2 and MDCKII-cABCG2 monolayers was confirmed by determination of cell permeability of transcellular marker propranolol and paracellular marker atenolol which was ≤1 %. In flux assays, ABCG2 substrate 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP) showed preferential basolateral to apical (B > A) transport in ABCG2-MDCKII cells. This apically directed PhIP transport was significantly inhibited by ABCG2 inhibitor fumitremorgin C (FTC) or the flavonoid equol. PhIP B > A transport in MDCKII-bABCG2 monolayers was additionally decreased by ABCG2 inhibitor Ko143. The fluoroquinolone antibiotic enrofloxacin was identified as a substrate of ruminant mammary ABCG2. The analgesic drug sodium salicylate was shown to be substrate of bABCG2 but not of cABCG2. Thus, the generated mammary ABCG2-expressing MDCKII cells represent a valuable tool to study active secretion of drugs and toxins into milk.

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / antagonists & inhibitors
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / genetics
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport / drug effects
  • Cattle
  • Cell Membrane Permeability / drug effects
  • Cell Polarity
  • Dogs
  • Drug Residues / metabolism
  • Female
  • Food Contamination
  • Goats
  • Lactation
  • Madin Darby Canine Kidney Cells
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / cytology
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / drug effects
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / metabolism*
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange* / drug effects
  • Membrane Transport Modulators / pharmacology
  • Milk / chemistry
  • Milk / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological*
  • Pregnancy
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Species Specificity
  • Xenobiotics / metabolism*


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Membrane Transport Modulators
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Xenobiotics