Affiliation: Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutics, 401 N 12th Street, Richmond, VA, 23298, USA.
A major function of the blood brain barrier (BBB) and blood cerebrospinal fluid barrier (BCSFB) is to exert selective control over the flux of organic cations and anions into and out of the CNS compartment. These barriers are dynamic tissues that accomplish this task by expressing dozens of transporter proteins representing numerous transporter families. One such family, belonging to the Solute Carrier (SLC) superfamily, is the organic cation/anion/zwitterion (SLC22) family of transporters, which includes the organic cation transporters (OCTs/OCTNs) and organic anion transporters (OATs). SLC22 transporters interact with a broad range of compounds that include drugs of abuse, environmental toxins/toxicants, opioid analgesics, antidepressant and anxiolytic agents and neurotransmitters and their metabolites. Defining the transport mechanisms controlling the CNS penetration, disposition and clearance of such compounds is fundamental to advancing our understanding of the underlying mechanisms that regulate CNS homeostasis and impact neuronal health. Such information might help direct efforts to improve the efficacy and clinical outcomes of current and future therapeutic agents used in the treatment of CNS disorders. This review focuses on highlighting the identification of the SLC22 transporter family, current knowledge of OCT and OAT expression within the CNS (including brain capillaries, choroid plexus and brain regions relevant to monoaminergic neuronal signaling), and recent data regarding behavioral changes related to mood and anxiety disorders and altered responses to stimulants and antidepressants in SLC22 loss of functions models (knockout/knockdown). In vitro and in vivo evidence of SLC22 localization and transport characteristics within the CNS compartment are summarized.