Blood–brain barrier transporters: a translational consideration for CNS delivery of neurotherapeutics

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: Successful neuropharmacology requires optimization of CNS drug delivery and, by extension, free drug concentrations at brain molecular targets. Detailed assessment of blood–brain barrier (BBB) physiological characteristics is necessary to achieve this goal. The ‘next frontier’ in CNS drug delivery is targeting BBB uptake transporters, an approach that requires evaluation of brain endothelial cell transport processes so that effective drug accumulation and improved therapeutic efficacy can occur. Areas covered: BBB permeability of drugs is governed by tight junction protein complexes (i.e., physical barrier) and transporters/enzymes (i.e., biochemical barrier). For most therapeutics, a component of blood-to-brain transport involves passive transcellular diffusion. Small molecule drugs that do not possess acceptable physicochemical characteristics for passive permeability may utilize putative membrane transporters for CNS uptake. While both uptake and efflux transport mechanisms are expressed at the brain microvascular endothelium, uptake transporters can be targeted for optimization of brain drug delivery and improved treatment of neurological disease states. Expert opinion: Uptake transporters represent a unique opportunity to optimize brain drug delivery by leveraging the endogenous biology of the BBB. A rigorous understanding of these transporters is required to improve translation from the bench to clinical trials and stimulate the development of new treatment paradigms for neurological diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-89
Number of pages19
JournalExpert Opinion on Drug Delivery
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2024


  • ABC transporters
  • SLC transporters
  • blood-brain barrier
  • drug delivery
  • endothelial cell
  • neuropharmacology
  • passive diffusion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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