M01 as a novel drug enhancer for specifically targeting the blood-brain barrier

J Control Release. 2021 Oct 10:338:137-148. doi: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2021.08.014. Epub 2021 Aug 10.


Drug delivery to the brain is limited for most pharmaceuticals by the blood-brain barrier (BBB) where claudin-5 dominates the paraendothelial tightening. For circumventing the BBB, we identified the compound M01 as a claudin-5 interaction inhibitor. M01 causes transient permeabilisation of the BBB depending on the concentration of small molecules in different cell culture models within 3 to 48 h. In mice, brain uptake of fluorescein peaked within the first 3 h after M01 injection and normalised within 48 h. Compared to the cytostatic paclitaxel alone, M01 improved delivery of paclitaxel to mouse brain and reduced orthotopic glioblastoma growth. Results on interactions of M01 with claudin-5 were incorporated into a binding model which suggests association of its aromatic parts with highly conserved residues of the extracellular domain of claudin-5 and adjacent transmembrane segments. Our results indicate the following mode of action: M01 preferentially binds to the extracellular claudin-5 domain, which weakens trans-interactions between adhering cells. Further decrease in membranous claudin-5 levels due to internalization and transcriptional downregulation enables the paracellular passage of small molecules. In summary, the first small molecule is introduced here as a drug enhancer, which specifically permeabilises the BBB for a sufficient interval for allowing neuropharmaceuticals to enter the brain.

Keywords: Blood-brain barrier; Claudin; Drug delivery; Glioblastoma; Permeability enhancer; Small molecule; Tight junctions; beta-catenin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier* / metabolism
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Claudin-5 / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations*
  • Tight Junctions / metabolism


  • Claudin-5
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations