Protein Expression and Functional Relevance of Efflux and Uptake Drug Transporters at the Blood-Brain Barrier of Human Brain and Glioblastoma

Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2020 May;107(5):1116-1127. doi: 10.1002/cpt.1710. Epub 2019 Dec 10.


The knowledge of transporter protein expression and function at the human blood-brain barrier (BBB) is critical to prediction of drug BBB penetration and design of strategies for improving drug delivery to the brain or brain tumor. This study determined absolute transporter protein abundances in isolated microvessels of human normal brain (N = 30), glioblastoma (N = 47), rat (N = 10) and mouse brain (N = 10), and cell membranes of MDCKII cell lines, using targeted proteomics. In glioblastoma microvessels, efflux transporters (ABCB1 and ABCG2), monocarboxylate transporter 1 (MCT1), glucose transporter 1 (GLUT1), sodium-potassium pump (Na/K ATPase), and Claudin-5 protein levels were significantly reduced, while large neutral amino acid transporter 1 (LAT1) was increased and GLU3 remained the same, as compared with human normal brain microvessels. ABCC4, OATP1A2, OATP2B1, and OAT3 were undetectable in microvessels of both human brain and glioblastoma. Species difference in BBB transporter abundances was noted. Cellular permeability experiments and modeling simulations suggested that not a single apical uptake transporter but a vectorial transport system consisting of an apical uptake transporter and basolateral efflux mechanism was required for efficient delivery of poor transmembrane permeability drugs from the blood to brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Dogs
  • Drug Delivery Systems
  • Glioblastoma / metabolism*
  • Glioblastoma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Madin Darby Canine Kidney Cells
  • Male
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Microvessels / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Permeability
  • Proteomics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Species Specificity


  • Membrane Transport Proteins