Defective clearance mechanisms lead to the accumulation of amyloid-beta (Aβ) peptides in the Alzheimer’s brain. Though predominantly generated in neurons, little is known about how these hydrophobic, aggregation-prone, and tightly membrane-associated peptides exit into the extracellular space where they deposit and propagate neurotoxicity. The ability for P-glycoprotein (P-gp), an ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter, to export Aβ across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) has previously been reported. However, controversies surrounding the P-gp–Aβ interaction persist. Here, molecular data affirm that both Aβ40 and Aβ42 peptide isoforms directly interact with and are substrates of P-gp. This was reinforced ex vivo by the inhibition of Aβ42 transport in brain capillaries from P-gp-knockout mice. Moreover, we explored whether P-gp could exert the same role in neurons. Comparison between non-neuronal CHO-APP and human neuroblastoma SK-N-SH cells revealed that P-gp is expressed and active in both cell types. Inhibiting P-gp activity using verapamil and nicardipine impaired Aβ40 and Aβ42 secretion from both cell types, as determined by ELISA. Collectively, these findings implicate P-gp in Aβ export from neurons, as well as across the BBB endothelium, and suggest that restoring or enhancing P-gp function could be a viable therapeutic approach for removing excess Aβ out of the brain in Alzheimer’s disease.

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Published in International Journal of Molecular Sciences, v. 22, issue 1, 246.

© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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This research was funded by a seed grant from the University of Sydney, Australia. A.B.C. and A.Y. were recipients of Australian Government scholarships. A.M.S.H. was supported by grant number 2R01AG039621 from the National Institute on Aging.

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The data presented in this study are available on request from the corresponding authors.