Open Access Open Badges Research

Susceptibility of juvenile and adult blood–brain barrier to endothelin-1: regulation of P-glycoprotein and breast cancer resistance protein expression and transport activity

Rania Harati1, Anne-Sophie Villégier2, William A Banks3 and Aloise Mabondzo1*

Author Affiliations

1 CEA, Direction des Sciences du Vivant, iBiTec-S, Service de Pharmacologie et d’Immunoanalyse, Gif-sur-Yvette, F91191, France

2 Department of Experimental Toxicology, Institut National de l'Environnement Industriel et des Risques (INERIS), BP.2, Verneuil-en-Halatte, 60550, France

3 GRECC, Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System, Division of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Journal of Neuroinflammation 2012, 9:273  doi:10.1186/1742-2094-9-273

Published: 19 December 2012



P-glycoprotein (P-gp) and breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP) play a critical role in keeping neurotoxic substances from entering the brain. We and others have previously reported an impact of inflammation on the regulation of adult blood–brain barrier (BBB) efflux transporters. However, studies in children have not been done. From the pediatric clinical perspective, it is important to understand how the central nervous system (CNS) and BBB drug efflux transporters differ in childhood from those of adults under normal and inflammatory conditions. Therefore, we examined and compared the regulation of P-gp and BCRP expression and transport activity in young and adult BBB and investigated the molecular mechanisms underlying inflammatory responses.


Rats at postnatal day (P) P21 and P84, corresponding to the juvenile and adult stages of human brain maturation, respectively, were treated with endothelin-1 (ET-1) given by the intracerebroventricular (icv) route. Twenty-four hours later, we measured P-gp and BCRP protein expression in isolated brain capillary by immunoblotting as well as by transport activity in vivo by measuring the unbound drug partitioning coefficient of the brain (Kp,uu,brain) of known efflux transporter substrates administered intravenously. Glial activation was measured by immunohistochemistry. The release of cytokines/chemokines (interleukins-1α, 1-β (IL-1β), -6 (IL-6), -10 (IL-10), monocyte chemoattractant protein (MCP-1/CCL2), fractalkine and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1 (TIMP-1)) were simultaneously measured in brain and serum samples using the Agilent Technology cytokine microarray.


We found that juvenile and adult BBBs exhibited similar P-gp and BCRP transport activities in the normal physiological conditions. However, long-term exposure of the juvenile brain to low-dose of ET-1 did not change BBB P-gp transport activity but tended to decrease BCRP transport activity in the juvenile brain, while a significant increase of the activity of both transporters was evidenced at the BBB in the adult brain. Moreover, juvenile and adult brain showed differences in their expression profiles of cytokines and chemokines mediated by ET-1.


BBB transporter activity during neuroinflammation differs between the juvenile and adult brains. These findings emphasize the importance of considering differential P-gp and BCRP transport regulation mechanisms between adult and juvenile BBB in the context of neuroinflammation.

Juvenile and adult blood–brain barrier; Neuroinflammation; Endothelin-1; Brain-to-blood transport; Drug transport; P-glycoprotein; Breast cancer resistance protein