Elucidating the details of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) transport mechanism is a very important step towards successful drug targeting to the brain and understanding what happens in the brain. Although several brain uptake methods have been developed to characterize transport at the BBB, these are mainly useful for investigating influx transport across the BBB. In 1992, P-glycoprotein was found to act as an efflux pump for anti-cancer drugs at the BBB using primary cultured bovine brain endothelial cells. In order to determine the direct efflux transport from the brain to the circulating blood of exogenous compounds in vivo, the Brain Efflux Index method was developed to characterize several BBB efflux transport systems. Recently, we have established conditionally immortalized rat (TR-BBB) and mouse (TM-BBB) brain capillary endothelial cell lines from transgenic rats and mice harboring temperature-sensitive simian virus 40 large T-antigen gene to characterize the transport mechanisms at the BBB in vitro. TR-BBB and TM-BBB cells possess certain in vivo transport functions and express mRNAs for the BBB. Using a combination of newly developed in vivo and in vitro methods, we have elucidated the efflux transport mechanism at the BBB for neurosteroids, excitatory neurotransmitters, suppressive neurotransmitters, amino acids, and other organic anions to understand the physiological role played by the BBB as a detoxifying organ for the brain.
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