New method enables drug-specific visual maps of blood-brain barrier drug transport


Researchers Per Andrén and Irena Loryan at Uppsala University have presented a new method for building brain maps to investigate the heterogeneity of blood-brain barrier unbound drug transport and intra-brain distribution at-a-glance.

Professor Per Andrén’s and Dr. Irena Loryan
Professor Per Andrén and Dr. Irena Loryan, the Faculty of Pharmacy

Researchers from the departments of Pharmaceutical Biosciences and Pharmacy at Uppsala University developed a novel method for functional characterisation and visualisation of blood-brain barrier (BBB) drug transport by merging advances in neuropharmacokinetics and mass spectrometry imaging.

In an article published in Molecular Psychiatry they present a quantitative mass spectrometry imaging-based method for assessing the extent of unbound drug BBB transport in discrete regions and subregions of the brain. Applying the method to a set of model antipsychotics, they show that there are substantial drug-specific regional differences in the extent of BBB transport and intra-brain distribution.

Recently, various molecular atlases of the regional brain vasculature have been presented. Yet, the functional maps of the regional and subregional unbound drug transport are still lacking or focused only on total concentrations, limiting the ability of molecular neuroscientists for integrating information and interpreting the structure-function relationships. Professor Per Andrén’s and Dr. Irena Loryan’s research groups have teamed up to tackle the problem.

MSI Lab Per Andrén, Uppsala
MSI Lab Per Andrén, Uppsala University

“The BBB is an active interface regulating the passage of drugs from the blood into and out of the brain and exhibits considerable spatial heterogeneity. This leads to regional differences in the extent of unbound (free) drug transport across the BBB of drugs, including antipsychotics,” says Dr. Loryan.

“An important benefit of the imaging method is the ability to generate drug-specific visual maps of BBB drug transport, giving a unique way to scrutinize BBB heterogeneity at a glance. The method also provides new opportunities for drug discovery and development of novel neurotherapeutics by mapping functional properties of the BBB” says Professor Andrén.



Per Andrén, Professor of Mass Spectrometry Imaging
Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, 070-1679334

Irena Loryan, Researcher
Department of Pharmacy, Translational PKPD

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Last modified: 2024-04-04