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Free Radic Biol Med. 2004 Mar 1;36(5):592-604.

Flavonoid permeability across an in situ model of the blood-brain barrier.

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  • 1Antioxidant Research Group, Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases, Centre for Neuroscience Research, Guy's King's and St Thomas's School of Biomedical Sciences, King's College, London SE1 1UL, UK.

Erratum in

  • Free Radic Biol Med. 2004 May 15;36(10):1342.


Understanding mechanisms associated with flavonoid neuroprotection is complicated by the lack of information on their ability to enter the CNS. This study examined naringenin and quercetin permeability across the blood-brain barrier (BBB), using in vitro (ECV304/C6 coculture) and in situ (rat) models. We report measurable permeabilities (P(app)) for both flavonoids across the in vitro BBB model, consistent with their lipophilicity. Both flavonoids showed measurable in situ BBB permeability. The rates of uptake (K(in)) into the right cerebral hemisphere were 0.145 and 0.019 ml min(-1) g(-1) for naringenin and quercetin, respectively. Quercetin K(in) was comparable to that of colchicine (0.006 ml min(-1) g(-1)), a substrate for P-glycoprotein (P-gp). Preadministration of the P-gp inhibitor PSC833 or GF120918 (10 mg/kg body wt) significantly increased colchicine K(in), but only GF120918 (able to inhibit breast cancer resistance protein, BCRP) affected K(in) for quercetin. Naringenin K(in) was not affected. The influence of efflux transporters on flavonoid permeability at the BBB was further studied using MDCK-MDR1 and immortalized rat brain endothelial cells (RBE4). Colchicine, quercetin, and naringenin all showed measurable accumulation (distribution volume, V(d) (microl/mg protein)) in both cell types. The V(d) for colchicine increased significantly in both cell lines following coincubation with either PSC833 (25 microM) or GF120918 (25 microM). Both inhibitors also caused an increase in naringenin V(d); by contrast only GF120918 coincubation significantly increased quercetin V(d). In conclusion, the results demonstrate that flavonoids are able to traverse the BBB in vivo. However, the permeability of certain flavonoids in vivo is influenced by their lipophilicity and interactions with efflux transporters.

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