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J Neurochem. 1999 Nov;73(5):1954-63.

Dexamethasone regulation of P-glycoprotein activity in an immortalized rat brain endothelial cell line, GPNT.

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  • 1INSERM U. 26, Hôpital Fernand Widal, Paris, France.


The blood-brain barrier (BBB) plays an important role in controlling the passage of molecules from the blood to the extracellular fluid environment of the brain. The multidrug efflux pump P-glycoprotein (P-gp) is highly expressed in the luminal membrane of brain capillary endothelial cells, thus forming a functional barrier to lipid-soluble drugs, notably, antitumor agents. It is of interest to develop an in vitro BBB model that stably expresses P-gp to investigate the mechanisms of regulation in expression and activity. The rat brain endothelial cell line, GPNT, was derived from a previously characterized rat brain endothelial cell line. A strong expression of P-gp was found in GPNT monocultures, whereas the multidrug resistance-associated pump Mrp1 was not expressed. The transendothelial permeability coefficient of the P-gp substrate vincristine across GPNT monolayers was close to the permeability coefficient of bovine brain endothelial cells cocultured with astrocytes, a previously documented in vitro BBB model. Furthermore, the P-gp blocker cyclosporin A induced a large increase in apical to basal permeability of vincristine. Thus, P-gp is highly functional in GPNT cells. A 1-h treatment of GPNT cells with dexamethasone resulted in decreased uptake of vincristine without any increase in P-gp expression. This effect could be mimicked by protein kinase C (PKC) activation and prevented by PKC inhibition, strongly suggesting that activation of P-gp function may involve a PKC-dependent pathway. These results document the GPNT cell line as a valuable in vitro model for studying drug transport and P-gp function at the BBB and suggest that activation of P-gp activity at the BBB might be considered in chemotherapeutic treatment of cancer patients.

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