Region-specific blood–brain barrier transporter changes leads to increased sensitivity to amisulpride in Alzheimer’s disease

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Background: Research into amisulpride use in Alzheimer's disease (AD) implicates blood-brain barrier (BBB) dysfunction in antipsychotic sensitivity. Research into BBB transporters has been mainly directed towards the ABC superfamily, however, solute carrier (SLC) function in AD has not been widely studied. This study tests the hypothesis that transporters for organic cations contribute to the BBB delivery of the antipsychotics (amisulpride and haloperidol) and is disrupted in AD.

Methods: The accumulation of [ 3H]amisulpride (3.7-7.7 nM) and [ 3H]haloperidol (10 nM) in human (hCMEC/D3) and mouse (bEnd.3) brain endothelial cell lines was explored. Computational approaches examined molecular level interactions of both drugs with the SLC transporters [organic cation transporter 1 (OCT1), plasma membrane monoamine transporter (PMAT) and multi-drug and toxic compound extrusion proteins (MATE1)] and amisulpride with the ABC transporter (P-glycoprotein). The distribution of [ 3H]amisulpride in wildtype and 3×transgenic AD mice was examined using in situ brain perfusion experiments. Western blots determined transporter expression in mouse and human brain capillaries.

Results: In vitro BBB and in silico transporter studies indicated that [ 3H]amisulpride and [ 3H]haloperidol were transported by the influx transporter, OCT1, and efflux transporters MATE1 and PMAT. Amisulpride did not have a strong interaction with OCTN1, OCTN2, P-gp, BCRP or MRP and could not be described as a substrate for these transporters. Amisulpride brain uptake was increased in AD mice compared to wildtype mice, but vascular space was unaffected. There were no measurable changes in the expression of MATE1, MATE2, PMAT OCT1, OCT2, OCT3, OCTN1, OCTN2 and P-gp in capillaries isolated from whole brain homogenates from the AD mice compared to wildtype mice. Although, PMAT and MATE1 expression was reduced in capillaries obtained from specific human brain regions (i.e. putamen and caudate) from AD cases (Braak stage V-VI) compared to age matched controls (Braak stage 0-II).

Conclusions: Together our research indicates that the increased sensitivity of individuals with Alzheimer's to amisulpride is related to previously unreported changes in function and expression of SLC transporters at the BBB (in particular PMAT and MATE1). Dose adjustments may be required for drugs that are substrates of these transporters when prescribing for individuals with AD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number38
JournalFluids and Barriers of the CNS
Issue number1
Early online date17 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Alzheimer's
  • Amisulpride
  • Blood-brain barrier
  • MATE1
  • OCT1
  • PMAT


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