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Neuroreport. 2018 Jun 13;29(9):697-703. doi: 10.1097/WNR.0000000000000990.

Aquaporin-4 facilitator TGN-073 promotes interstitial fluid circulation within the blood-brain barrier: [17O]H2O JJVCPE MRI study.

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Center for Integrated Human Brain Science, Brain Research Institute, University of Niigata, Niigata, Japan.
Department of Neurology, University of California, Davis, California, USA.


The blood-brain barrier (BBB), which imposes significant water permeability restriction, effectively isolates the brain from the systemic circulation. Seemingly paradoxical, the abundance of aquaporin-4 (AQP-4) on the inside of the BBB strongly indicates the presence of unique water dynamics essential for brain function. On the basis of the highly specific localization of AQP-4, namely, astrocyte end feet at the glia limitans externa and pericapillary Virchow-Robin space, we hypothesized that the AQP-4 system serves as an interstitial fluid circulator, moving interstitial fluid from the glia limitans externa to pericapillary Virchow-Robin space to ensure proper glymphatic flow draining into the cerebrospinal fluid. The hypothesis was tested directly using the AQP-4 facilitator TGN-073 developed in our laboratory, and [O]H2O JJ vicinal coupling proton exchange MRI, a method capable of tracing water molecules delivered into the blood circulation. The results unambiguously showed that facilitation of AQP-4 by TGN-073 increased turnover of interstitial fluid through the system, resulting in a significant reduction in [O]H2O contents of cortex with normal flux into the cerebrospinal fluid. The study further suggested that in addition to providing the necessary water for proper glymphatic flow, the AQP-4 system produces a water gradient within the interstitial space promoting circulation of interstitial fluid within the BBB.

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