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Keywords:

  • Angiopep;
  • blood–brain barrier;
  • low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein;
  • transcytosis

Abstract

The blood–brain barrier (BBB) restricts the entry of proteins as well as potential drugs to cerebral tissues. We previously reported that a family of Kunitz domain-derived peptides called Angiopeps can be used as a drug delivery system for the brain. Here, we further characterize the transcytosis ability of these peptides using an in vitro model of the BBB and in situ brain perfusion. These peptides, and in particular Angiopep-2, exhibited higher transcytosis capacity and parenchymal accumulation than do transferrin, lactoferrin, and avidin. Angiopep-2 transport and accumulation in brain endothelial cells were unaffected by the P-glycoprotein inhibitor, cyclosporin A, indicating that this peptide is not a substrate for the efflux pump P-glycoprotein. However, competition studies show that activated α2-macroglobulin, a specific ligand for the low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein-1 (LRP1) and Angiopep-2 can share the same receptor. In addition, LRP1 was detected in glioblastomas and brain metastases from lung and skin cancers. Fluorescent microscopy also revealed that Alexa488-Angiopep-2 co-localized with LRP1 in brain endothelial cell monolayers. Overall, these results suggest that Angiopep-2 transport across the BBB is, in part, mediated by LRP1.