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J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 1997 Jan;280(1):402-9.

Blood-brain barrier permeability and bioavailability of a highly potent and mu-selective opioid receptor antagonist, CTAP: comparison with morphine.

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Department of Pharmacology, University of Arizona, College of Medicine, Tucson, USA.


D-Phe-Cys-Tyr-D-Trp-Arg-Thr-Pen-Thr-NH2 (CTAP) is a cyclic, penicillamine-containing octapeptide that is structurally similar to somatostatin and displays greater antagonist potency and selectivity for mu-opioid receptors, compared with the classical mu-selective antagonist D-Phe-Cys-Tyr-D-Trp-Orn-Thr-Pen-Thr-NH2. The aim of this study was to determine whether CTAP can enter the central nervous system (CNS) by crossing either the blood-brain barrier or the blood-cerebrospinal fluid barrier (CSF) and to characterize the mechanism of CNS entry. CNS entry of [3H]CTAP was compared with that of the vascular space marker [14C]inulin and the mu-agonist [3H]morphine. By using an in situ brain perfusion technique coupled to high-performance liquid chromatographic analysis, greater amounts of radioactivity were detected in the brain or CSF at most time points for [3H]CTAP, compared with [14C]inulin. [3H]CTAP was found to remain predominantly intact in the brain after a 20-min rat brain perfusion (62.8%). CTAP was also stable in the blood and serum of rats (T1/2 > 500 min), showing that the structure of this peptide offers enzymatic resistance. Additionally, [3H]CTAP was found to be extensively protein-bound to albumin in the perfusion medium (68.2%) and to proteins in rat serum (84.2%). Entry into the brain and CSF was not inhibited by the addition of unlabeled CTAP to the perfusion medium, suggesting that passage into the CNS is most likely through diffusion across the membranes that comprise the blood-brain barrier, rather than by saturable transport. Also, greater amounts of [3H]morphine entered both the brain and CSF after a 20-min brain perfusion, compared with [3H]CTAP. The increased CNS penetration observed for [3H]morphine, compared with [3H]CTAP, is likely due to the increased lipophilicity of morphine, as shown by its higher octanol/saline partition coefficient. Based on the pharmacokinetic profile, CTAP may be a promising mu-selective antagonist that can be used as a treatment for opiate overdose or addiction and also as a pharmacological tool to further understand opioid neurobiology.

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