Blood-Brain Barrier Produces Significant Efflux of L-Aspartic Acid but Not D-Aspartic Acid

In Vivo Evidence Using the Brain Efflux Index Method


  • Abbreviations used : D-Asp, D-aspartic acid ; L-Asp, L-aspartic acid ; BBB, blood-brain barrier ; BEI, brain efflux index ; L-Glu, L-glutamic acid ; Par2, parietal cortex, area 2 ; PDC, L-trans-pyrrolidine-2,4-dicarboxylic acid ; THA, DL-threo-β-hydroxyaspartic acid.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. T. Terasaki at Department of Molecular Biopharmacy and Genetics, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Tohoku University, Aoba, Aramaki, Aoba-ku, Sendai 980-8578, Japan.


Abstract : The brain efflux index method has been used to clarify the mechanism of efflux transport of acidic amino acids such as L-aspartic acid (L-Asp), L-glutamic acid (L-Glu), and D-aspartic acid (D-Asp) across the blood-brain barrier (BBB). About 85% of L-[3H]Asp and 40% of L-[3H]Glu was eliminated from the ipsilateral cerebrum within, respectively, 10 and 20 min of microinjection into the brain. The efflux rate constant of L-[3H]Asp and L-[3H]Glu was 0.207 and 0.0346 min-1, respectively. However, D-[3H]Asp was not eliminated from brain over a 20-min period. The efflux of L-[3H]Asp and L-[3H]Glu was inhibited in the presence of excess unlabeled L-Asp and L-Glu, whereas D-Asp did not inhibit either form of efflux transport. Aspartic acid efflux across the BBB appears to be stereospecific. Using a combination of TLC and the bioimaging analysis, attempts were made to detect the metabolities of L-[3H]Asp and L-[3H]Glu in the ipsilateral cerebrum and jugular vein plasma following a microinjection into parietal cortex, area 2. Significant amounts of intact L-[3H]Asp and L-[3H]Glu were found in all samples examined, including jugular vein plasma, providing direct evidence that at least a part of the L-Asp and L-Glu in the brain interstitial fluid is transported across the BBB in the intact form. To compare the transport of acidic amino acids using brain parenchymal cells, brain slice uptake studies were performed. Although the slice-to-medium ratio of D-[3H]Asp was the highest, followed by L-[3H]Glu and L-[3H]Asp, the initial uptake rate did not differ for both L-[3H]Asp and D-[3H]Asp, suggesting that the uptake of aspartic acid in brain parenchymal cells is not stereospecific. These results provide evidence that the BBB may act as an efflux pump for L-Asp and L-Glu to reduce the brain interstitial fluid concentration and act as a static wall for D-Asp.