• 5-aminolevulinic acid;
  • brain;
  • expression;
  • neurotoxicity;
  • peptide transporter 2


The proton-coupled oligopeptide transporter PEPT2 (or SLC15A2) is the major protein involved in the reclamation of peptide-bound amino acids and peptide-like drugs in kidney. PEPT2 is also important in effluxing peptides and peptidomimetics from CSF at the choroid plexus, thereby limiting their exposure in brain. In this study, we report a neuroprotective role for PEPT2 in modulating the toxicity of a heme precursor, 5-aminolevulinic acid (5-ALA). Our findings demonstrate that in PEPT2-deficient mice, 5-ALA administration results in reduced survivability, a worsening of neuromuscular dysfunction, and CSF concentrations of substrate that are 8–30 times higher than that in wild-type control animals. The ability of PEPT2 to limit 5-ALA exposure in CSF suggests that it may also have relevance as a secondary genetic modifier of conditions (such as acute hepatic porphyrias and lead poisoning) in which 5-ALA metabolism is altered and in which 5-ALA toxicity is important.