Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 21183485
Brain 2011 Feb;134(Pt 2):555-70
Adenosine triphosphate-binding cassette efflux transporters are highly expressed at the blood-brain barrier and actively hinder passage of harmful compounds, thereby maintaining brain homoeostasis. Since, adenosine triphosphate-binding cassette transporters drive cellular exclusion of potential neurotoxic compounds or inflammatory molecules, alterations in their expression and function at the blood-brain barrier may contribute to the pathogenesis of neuroinflammatory disorders, such as multiple sclerosis. Therefore, we investigated the expression pattern of different adenosine triphosphate-binding cassette efflux transporters, including P-glycoprotein, multidrug resistance-associated proteins-1 and -2 and breast cancer resistance protein in various well-characterized human multiple sclerosis lesions. Cerebrovascular expression of P-glycoprotein was decreased in both active and chronic inactive multiple sclerosis lesions. Interestingly, foamy macrophages in active multiple sclerosis lesions showed enhanced expression of multidrug resistance-associated protein-1 and breast cancer resistance protein, which coincided with their increased function of cultured foamy macrophages. Strikingly, reactive astrocytes display an increased expression of P-glycoprotein and multidrug resistance-associated protein-1 in both active and inactive multiple sclerosis lesions, which correlated with their enhanced in vitro activity on astrocytes derived from multiple sclerosis lesions. To investigate whether adenosine triphosphate-binding cassette transporters on reactive astrocytes can contribute to the inflammatory process, primary cultures of reactive human astrocytes were generated through activation of Toll-like receptor-3 to mimic the astrocytic phenotype as observed in multiple sclerosis lesions. Notably, blocking adenosine triphosphate-binding cassette transporter activity on reactive astrocytes inhibited immune cell migration across a blood-brain barrier model in vitro, which was due to the reduction of astrocytic release of the chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2. Our data point towards a novel (patho)physiological role for adenosine triphosphate-binding cassette transporters, suggesting that limiting their activity by dampening astrocyte activation may open therapeutic avenues to diminish tissue damage during multiple sclerosis pathogenesis.