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Mol Pharmacol. 2005 May;67(5):1758-64. Epub 2005 Feb 11.

The breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP/ABCG2) affects pharmacokinetics, hepatobiliary excretion, and milk secretion of the antibiotic nitrofurantoin.

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  • 1Division of Experimental Therapy, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam.


Nitrofurantoin is a commonly used urinary tract antibiotic prescribed to lactating woman. It is actively transported into human and rat milk by an unknown mechanism. Our group has demonstrated an important role of the breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP/ABCG2) in the secretion of xenotoxins into the milk. This ATP-binding cassette drug efflux transporter extrudes xenotoxins from cells in intestine, liver, mammary gland, and other organs, affecting the pharmacological and toxicological behavior of many compounds. We investigated whether Bcrp1 is involved in the pharmacokinetic profile of nitrofurantoin and its active secretion into the milk. Using polarized cell lines, we found that nitrofurantoin is efficiently transported by murine Bcrp1 and human BCRP. After oral administration of 10 mg/kg nitrofurantoin, the area under the plasma concentrationtime curve in Bcrp1 knockout mice was almost 4-fold higher than in wild-type mice (148.8 +/- 30.4 versus 37.5 +/- 6.8 min x microg/ml); and after i.v. administration (5 mg/kg), 2-fold higher (139.2 +/- 22.0 versus 73.9 +/- 9.0 min x microg/ml). Hepatobiliary excretion of nitrofurantoin was almost abolished in Bcrp1 knockout mice (9.6 +/- 3.2 versus 0.2 +/- 0.1% in wild-type and Bcrp1 knockout mice, respectively). The milk-to-plasma ratio of nitrofurantoin was almost 80 times higher in wild-type compared with Bcrp1 knockout lactating female mice (45.7 +/- 16.2 versus 0.6 +/- 0.1). Nitrofurantoin elimination via milk was quantitatively even higher than hepatobiliary elimination. We conclude that Bcrp1 is an important determinant for the bioavailability of nitrofurantoin and the main mechanism involved in its hepatobiliary excretion and secretion into the milk.

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