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J Pharm Sci. 1999 Apr;88(4):392-7.

Transport of the delta-opioid receptor agonist [D-penicillamine2,5] enkephalin across the blood-brain barrier involves transcytosis1.

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Department of Pharmacology, The University of Arizona, College of Medicine, LSN 533, 1501 N. Campbell Avenue, Tucson, Arizona 85724, USA.


The delta opioid receptor antagonist [D-penicillamine2,5]enkephalin (DPDPE) is an enzymatically stable peptide analogue of Met-enkephalin. DPDPE uses a saturable transport mechanism to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB), though the exact mechanism is not fully understood. The aim of the present study was to identify the mechanism by which DPDPE enters the brain. The effect of phenylarsine oxide (PAO), an endocytosis inhibitor, on the transport of [3H]DPDPE was investigated using both in vitro and in situ transport studies. Two in vitro models of the BBB utilizing primary bovine brain microvascular endothelial cells (BBMEC) were studied. [3H]DPDPE permeability across monolayers of BBMEC grown on polycarbonate filters was studied. PAO significantly reduced the permeability of [3H]DPDPE across the monolayer. PAO also reduced the uptake of [3H]DPDPE into BBMEC cells, without affecting binding to the cells. The in situ perfusion model of the BBB was also studied, PAO reduced DPDPE uptake by the brain in a dose-dependent manner. These studies indicate that DPDPE enters the brain via an energy-dependent transcytotic mechanism.

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