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J Neurosci. 2011 Jun 15;31(24):8803-11. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6616-10.2011.

A novel positron emission tomography imaging protocol identifies seizure-induced regional overactivity of P-glycoprotein at the blood-brain barrier.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Veterinary Medicine, and Center for Systems Neuroscience, 30559 Hannover, Germany.


Approximately one-third of epilepsy patients are pharmacoresistant. Overexpression of P-glycoprotein and other multidrug transporters at the blood-brain barrier is thought to play an important role in drug-refractory epilepsy. Thus, quantification of regionally different P-glycoprotein activity in the brain in vivo is essential to identify P-glycoprotein overactivity as the relevant mechanism for drug resistance in an individual patient. Using the radiolabeled P-glycoprotein substrate (R)-[(11)C]verapamil and different doses of coadministered tariquidar, which is an inhibitor of P-glycoprotein, we evaluated whether small-animal positron emission tomography can quantify regional changes in transporter function in the rat brain at baseline and 48 h after a pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus. P-glycoprotein expression was additionally quantified by immunohistochemistry. To reveal putative seizure-induced changes in blood-brain barrier integrity, we performed gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance scans on a 7.0 tesla small-animal scanner. Before P-glycoprotein modulation, brain uptake of (R)-[(11)C]verapamil was low in all regions investigated in control and post-status epilepticus rats. After administration of 3 mg/kg tariquidar, which inhibits P-glycoprotein only partially, we observed increased regional differentiation in brain activity uptake in post-status epilepticus versus control rats, which diminished after maximal P-glycoprotein inhibition. Regional increases in the efflux rate constant k(2), but not in distribution volume V(T) or influx rate constant K(1), correlated significantly with increases in P-glycoprotein expression measured by immunohistochemistry. This imaging protocol proves to be suitable to detect seizure-induced regional changes in P-glycoprotein activity and is readily applicable to humans, with the aim to detect relevant mechanisms of pharmacoresistance in epilepsy in vivo.

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