Pregnane X receptor (PXR) regulates P-glycoprotein at the blood-brain barrier: Functional similarities between pig and human PXR

Melanie Ott, Gert Fricker, Björn Bauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Pharmacotherapy of central nervous system (CNS) disorders is impaired by the drug efflux transporter, P-glycoprotein, which limits drug penetration across the blood-brain barrier into the CNS. One strategy to increase brain drug levels is to modulate P-glycoprotein regulation. This approach requires understanding of the mechanisms that control transporter expression and function. One mechanism through which P-glycoprotein is regulated is the nuclear receptor, pregnane X receptor (PXR). Xenobiotics including drugs activate PXR and induce P-glycoprotein, which potentially affects pharmacokinetics/ pharmacodynamics of coadministered drugs. Because rodent models are not suitable to predict xenobiotic interactions with human PXR, in a porcine model, we studied functional similarities between pig and human PXR. We used brain capillary endothelial cells from pig to study the effect of PXR activation on P-glycopro-tein. To activate PXR, we used the PXR ligands, rifampicin, hyperforin, and pregnenolone-16α-carbonitrile (PCN), and measured abcb1 mRNA with quantitative polymerase chain reaction, P-glycoprotein expression with Western blotting, and P-glycoprotein transport activity with a calcein assay. We provide first proof of principle that the human PXR ligands, rifampicin and hyperforin, but not the rodent PXR ligand, PCN, activate pig PXR at the blood-brain barrier and induce mRNA, protein expression, and transport activity of P-glycoprotein. Our data indicate functional similarities between human and pig PXR that suggest the pig model could be useful for predicting xenobiotic-PXR interactions in humans. Because PXR is crucial in controlling drug efflux transporters, our findings will contribute to a better understanding of the regulation of blood-brain barrier function, which could potentially have important clinical implications for the treatment of CNS disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-149
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology


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