Bile duct ligation enhances AZT CNS toxicity partly by impairing the expression and function of BCRP in rat brain

Authors: Yuan-yuan Qin1, Ping Xu1, Tong Wu1, Chao-qun Qian1, Yi-lin Fan1, Dong-hao Gen1, Liang Zhu1, Wei-min Kong1, Han-yu Yang1, Feng Xu1, Yi-ting Yang1, Li Liu1, Xiao-dong Liu1
1 Center of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics, School of Pharmacy, China Pharmaceutical University, Nanjing 210009, China
Correspondence to: Li Liu:, Xiao-dong Liu:,
DOI: 10.1038/s41401-019-0242-8
Received: 29 December 2018
Accepted: 19 April 2019
Advance online: 25 April 2019


Breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP) is one of ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters in brain microvessel endothelial cells that transport their substrates from brain to blood, thus limiting substrates to crossing into brain through blood–brain barrier. Our previous works show that bile duct ligation (BDL) impairs expression and function of brain BCRP in rats. Since zidovudine (AZT) is BCRP substrate, we investigated whether impaired expression and function of BCRP increased brain distribution and toxicity of AZT in BDL-D7 rats. After administration of AZT (10 mg/kg, i.v.), BDL markedly increased brain AZT concentrations, compared with sham-operated (SO) rats. The ratio of AZT brain-to-plasma area under concentration curve (AUC) in BDL rats was increased to 1.6-folds of SO rats. After treatment with AZT (100 mg/kg every day, i.v.) for 7 days, BDL significantly impaired cognitive functions compared with SO rats, evidenced by the significantly decreased percentage of alternation in Y-maze test and prolonged escaped latency in two-way passive avoidance trial. Furthermore, AZT treatment caused significant decrease in copies of mitochondrial DNA and mitochondrial membrane potential in hippocampus of BDL rats. Moreover, AZT treatment caused a significant decrease of cortex microtubule-associated protein 2 and hippocampus synaptophysin levels in BDL rats. AZT-induced CNS adverse alterations in BDL rats were not observed in SO rats treated with AZT. In conclusion, BDL decreases the function and expression of brain BCRP in rats, leading to increased brain distribution of AZT, which in turn enhances AZT CNS toxicity, leading to mitochondrial dysfunction, neuronal damage, and ultimately cognitive dysfunction.

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