ABCB1 (MDR1)-type P-glycoproteins at the blood-brain barrier modulate the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical system: implications for affective disorder.

Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Kraepelinstrasse 2-10, 80804 Munich, Germany.
Neuropsychopharmacology (Impact Factor: 7.83). 12/2003; 28(11):1991-9. DOI: 10.1038/sj.npp.1300257
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Multidrug-resistance gene 1-type P-glycoproteins (ABCB1-type P-gps) protect the brain against the accumulation of many toxic xenobiotics and drugs. We recently could show that the access of the endogenous glucocorticoids corticosterone and cortisol to the brain are regulated by ABCB1-type P-gps in vivo. ABCB1-type P-gp function, therefore, is likely to exert a profound influence on the regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) system. Hyperactivity of the HPA system is frequently observed in human affective disorder, and a considerable amount of evidence has been accumulated suggesting that normalization of the HPA system might be the final step necessary for stable remission of the disease. To examine whether blood-brain barrier (BBB) function influences neuroendocrine regulation, we investigated HPA system activity in abcb1ab (-/-) mice under basal conditions and following stress. Abcb1ab (-/-) mice showed consistently lower plasma ACTH levels and lower evening plasma corticosterone levels. CRH mRNA expression in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus was decreased and pituitary POMC mRNA expressing cells were significantly reduced in number in abcb1ab (-/-) mutants; however, they showed a normal activation of the HPA system following CRH stimulation. Lower doses of dexamethasone were required to suppress plasma corticosterone levels in mutants. Our data thus provide evidence for a sustained suppression of the HPA system at the hypothalamic level in abcb1ab (-/-) mice, suggesting that BBB function significantly regulates HPA system activity. Whether naturally occurring polymorphisms in the human ABCB1 gene might result in persistent changes in the responsiveness and regulation of the HPA system will be the subject of future investigations, correlating both genetic information with individual characteristics of the neuroendocrine phenotype.

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