Guanidino compounds (GCs), such as creatine, phosphocreatine, guanidinoacetic acid, creatinine, methylguanidine, guanidinosuccinic acid, γ-guanidinobutyric acid, β-guanidinopropionic acid, guanidinoethane sulfonic acid and α-guanidinoglutaric acid, are present in the mammalian brain. Although creatine and phosphocreatine play important roles in energy homeostasis in the brain, accumulation of GCs may induce epileptic discharges and convulsions. This review focuses on how physiologically important and/or neurotoxic GCs are distributed in the brain under physiological and pathological conditions. Transporters for GCs at the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and the blood-cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) barrier (BCSFB) have emerged as substantial contributors to GCs distribution in the brain. Creatine transporter (CRT/solute carrier (SLC) 6A8) expressed at the BBB regulates creatine concentration in the brain, and represents a major pathway for supply of creatine from the circulating blood to the brain. CRT may be a key factor facilitating blood-to-brain guanidinoacetate transport in patients deficient in S-adenosylmethionine:guanidinoacetate N-methyltransferase, the creatine biosynthetic enzyme, resulting in cerebral accumulation of guanidinoacetate. CRT, taurine transporter (TauT/SLC6A6) and organic cation transporter (OCT3/SLC22A3) expressed at the BCSFB are involved in guanidinoacetic acid or creatinine efflux transport from CSF. Interestingly, BBB efflux transport of GCs, including guanidinoacetate and creatinine, is negligible, though the BBB has a variety of efflux transport systems for synthetic precursors of GCs, such as amino acids and neurotransmitters. Instead, the BCSFB functions as a major cerebral clearance system for GCs. In conclusion, transport of GCs at the BBB and BCSFB appears to be the key determinant of the cerebral levels of GCs, and changes in the transport characteristics may cause the abnormal distribution of GCs in the brain seen in patients with certain neurological disorders.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience