Brain accumulation of the EML4-ALK inhibitor ceritinib is restricted by P-glycoprotein (P-GP/ABCB1) and breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP/ABCG2)

Pharmacol Res. 2015 Dec;102:200-7. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2015.09.003. Epub 2015 Sep 8.


We aimed to clarify the roles of the multidrug transporters ABCB1 and ABCG2 in oral availability and brain accumulation of ceritinib, an oral anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) inhibitor used to treat metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) after progression on crizotinib. Importantly, NSCLC is prone to form brain metastases. Transport of ceritinib by human (h) ABCB1 or hABCG2 or mouse (m) Abcg2 was assessed in vitro. To study the single and combined roles of Abcb1a/1b and Abcg2 in ceritinib disposition in vivo, we used appropriate knockout mouse strains. Ceritinib was very efficiently transported by hABCB1, and efficiently by hABCG2 and mAbcg2 in vitro, and transport was specifically inhibited by the ABCB1 inhibitor zosuquidar and ABCG2 inhibitor Ko143, respectively. Absorption and 24-h oral availability were not significantly affected by the absence of Abcb1 and/or Abcg2, but the brain concentrations were greatly increased (>38-fold) in Abcb1a/1b(-/-) mice at 3 and 24h after oral administration of 20mg/kg ceritinib. The brain concentrations increased another ∼ 3-fold (to >90-fold) in Abcb1a/1b;Abcg2(-/-) mice, indicating that there was a significant additional effect of Abcg2-mediated transport of ceritinib as well in vivo. Overall, brain accumulation, but not the 24-h oral availability of ceritinib were profoundly restricted by Abcb1a/1b and Abcg2, with Abcb1a/1b being the dominant efflux protein. Our data suggest that coadministration of ceritinib with a dual ABCB1 and ABCG2 inhibitor may improve treatment of brain (micro) metastases positioned behind a functionally intact blood-brain barrier, and possibly also of tumors resistant to ceritinib due to ABCB1 or ABCG2 overexpression.

Keywords: ABCB1; ABCG2; ALK inhibitor; Blood-brain barrier; Ceritinib; Oral availability.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B / metabolism*
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily G, Member 2
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / metabolism*
  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase
  • Animals
  • Biological Availability
  • Biological Transport / drug effects
  • Biological Transport / physiology
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Crizotinib
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion / metabolism
  • Organic Anion Transporters / metabolism
  • Pyrazoles / pharmacology
  • Pyridines / pharmacology
  • Pyrimidines / metabolism*
  • Pyrimidines / pharmacology
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Sulfones / metabolism*
  • Sulfones / pharmacology
  • Tissue Distribution / physiology


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily G, Member 2
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Abcg2 protein, mouse
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Oncogene Proteins, Fusion
  • Organic Anion Transporters
  • Pyrazoles
  • Pyridines
  • Pyrimidines
  • Sulfones
  • Crizotinib
  • ALK protein, human
  • Alk protein, mouse
  • Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase
  • Receptor Protein-Tyrosine Kinases
  • ceritinib