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Br J Pharmacol. 1999 May;127(1):43-50.

Role of blood-brain barrier P-glycoprotein in limiting brain accumulation and sedative side-effects of asimadoline, a peripherally acting analgaesic drug.

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


Studies with knockout mice lacking mdr1a P-glycoprotein (P-gp) have previously shown that blood-brain barrier P-gp is important in preventing the accumulation of several drugs in the brain. Asimadoline (EMD 61753) is a peripherally selective kappa-opioid receptor agonist which is under development as a therapeutic analgaesic. From the structural characteristics of this drug and its peripheral selectivity, we hypothesized that it is transported by P-gp. Using a pig-kidney polarized epithelial cell line transfected with mdr cDNAs, we demonstrate that asimadoline is transported by the mouse mdr1a P-gp and the human MDR1 P-gp. Furthermore, we show that in mdr1a/1b double knockout mice, the absence of P-gp leads to a 9 fold increased accumulation of asimadoline in the brain. In line with this accumulation difference, mdr1a/1b (-/-) mice are at least 8 fold more sensitive to the sedative effect of asimadoline than wild-type mice. Interestingly, the oral uptake of asimadoline was not substantially altered in mdr1a/1b (-/-) mice. Our results demonstrate that for some drugs, P-gp in the blood-brain barrier can have a therapeutically beneficial effect by limiting brain penetration, whereas at the same time intestinal P-gp is not a significant impediment to oral uptake of the drug.

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