Absence of P-Glycoprotein Transport in the Pharmacokinetics and Toxicity of the Herbicide Paraquat

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Genetic variation in the multidrug resistance gene ABCB1, which encodes the efflux transporter P-glycoprotein (P-gp), has been associated with Parkinson disease. Our goal was to investigate P-gp transport of paraquat, a Parkinson-associated neurotoxicant. We used in vitro transport models of ATPase activity, xenobiotic-induced cytotoxicity, transepithelial permeability, and rhodamine-123 inhibition. We also measured paraquat pharmacokinetics and brain distribution in Friend leukemia virus B-type (FVB) wild-type and P-gp-deficient (mdr1a(-/-)/mdr1b(-/-)) mice following 10, 25, 50, and 100 mg/kg oral doses. In vitro data showed that: 1) paraquat failed to stimulate ATPase activity; 2) resistance to paraquat-induced cytotoxicity was unchanged in P-gp-expressing cells in the absence or presence of P-gp inhibitors GF120918 [N-(4-[2-(1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-6,7-dimethoxy-2-isoquinolinyl)ethyl]-phenyl)-9,10-dihydro-5-methoxy-9-oxo-4-acridine carboxamide] and verapamil-37.0 [95% confidence interval (CI): 33.2-41.4], 46.2 (42.5-50.2), and 34.1 µM (31.2-37.2)-respectively; 3) transepithelial permeability ratios of paraquat were the same in P-gp-expressing and nonexpressing cells (1.55 ± 0.39 and 1.39 ± 0.43, respectively); and 4) paraquat did not inhibit rhodamine-123 transport. Population pharmacokinetic modeling revealed minor differences between FVB wild-type and mdr1a(-/-)/mdr1b(-/-) mice: clearances of 0.47 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.42-0.52] and 0.78 l/h (0.58-0.98), respectively, and volume of distributions of 1.77 (95% CI: 1.50-2.04) and 3.36 liters (2.39-4.33), respectively; however, the change in clearance was in the opposite direction of what would be expected. It is noteworthy that paraquat brain-to-plasma partitioning ratios and total brain accumulation were the same across doses between FVB wild-type and mdr1a(-/-)/mdr1b(-/-) mice. These studies indicate that paraquat is not a P-gp substrate. Therefore, the association between ABCB1 pharmacogenomics and Parkinson disease is not attributed to alterations in paraquat transport.