The blood–brain barrier (BBB) is a highly selective and restrictive semipermeable network of cells and blood vessel constituents. All components of the neurovascular unit give to the BBB its crucial and protective function, i.e., to regulate homeostasis in the central nervous system (CNS) by removing substances from the endothelial compartment and supplying the brain with nutrients and other endogenous compounds. Many transporters have been identified that play a role in maintaining BBB integrity and homeostasis. As such, the restrictive nature of the BBB provides an obstacle for drug delivery to the CNS. Nevertheless, according to their physicochemical or pharmacological properties, drugs may reach the CNS by passive diffusion or be subjected to putative influx and/or efflux through BBB membrane transporters, allowing or limiting their distribution to the CNS. Drug transporters functionally expressed on various compartments of the BBB involve numerous proteins from either the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) or the solute carrier (SLC) superfamilies. Pathophysiological stressors, age, and age-associated disorders may alter the expression level and functionality of transporter protein elements that modulate drug distribution and accumulation into the brain, namely, drug efficacy and toxicity. This review focuses and sheds light on the influence of inflammatory conditions and diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and stroke on the expression and functionality of the BBB drug transporters, the consequential modulation of drug distribution to the brain, and their impact on drug efficacy and toxicity.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited