Open Access Research article

RLIP76, a non-ABC transporter, and drug resistance in epilepsy

Sanjay Awasthi1, Kerri L Hallene2, Vince Fazio2, Sharad S Singhal1, Luca Cucullo2, Yogesh C Awasthi4, Gabriele Dini2 and Damir Janigro23*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX USA

2 Cerebrovascular Research, Department of Neurological Surgery, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH USA

3 Molecular Medicine, Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, Cleveland, OH USA

4 Department of Human Biological Chemistry and Genetics, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Galveston, TX USA

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BMC Neuroscience 2005, 6:61  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-6-61

Published: 27 September 2005



Permeability of the blood-brain barrier is one of the factors determining the bioavailability of therapeutic drugs and resistance to chemically different antiepileptic drugs is a consequence of decreased intracerebral accumulation. The ABC transporters, particularly P-glycoprotein, are known to play a role in antiepileptic drug extrusion, but are not by themselves sufficient to fully explain the phenomenon of drug-resistant epilepsy. Proteomic analyses of membrane protein differentially expressed in epileptic foci brain tissue revealed the frequently increased expression of RLIP76/RALBP1, a recently described non-ABC multi-specific transporter. Because of a significant overlap in substrates between P-glycoprotein and RLIP76, present studies were carried out to determine the potential role of RLIP76 in AED transport in the brain.


RLIP76 was expressed in brain tissue, preferentially in the lumenal surface of endothelial cell membranes. The expression was most prominent in blood brain barrier tissue from excised epileptic foci. Saturable, energy-dependent, anti-gradient transport of both phenytoin and carbamazepine were demonstrated using recombinant RLIP76 reconstituted into artificial membrane liposomes. Immunotitration studies of transport activity in crude membrane vesicles prepared from whole-brain tissue endothelium showed that RLIP76 represented the dominant transport mechanism for both drugs. RLIP76-/- knockout mice exhibited dramatic toxicity upon phenytoin administration due to decreased drug extrusion mechanisms at the blood-brain barrier.


We conclude that RLIP76 is the predominant transporter of AED in the blood brain barrier, and that it may be a transporter involved in mechanisms of drug-resistant epilepsy.