Aquaporin-4 facilitator TGN-073 promotes interstitial fluid circulation within the blood–brain barrier: [17O]H2O JJVCPE MRI study

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The blood–brain barrier (BBB), which imposes significant water permeability restriction, effectively isolates the brain from the systemic circulation. Seemingly paradoxical, the abundance of aquaporin-4 (AQP-4) on the inside of the BBB strongly indicates the presence of unique water dynamics essential for brain function. On the basis of the highly specific localization of AQP-4, namely, astrocyte end feet at the glia limitans externa and pericapillary Virchow–Robin space, we hypothesized that the AQP-4 system serves as an interstitial fluid circulator, moving interstitial fluid from the glia limitans externa to pericapillary Virchow–Robin space to ensure proper glymphatic flow draining into the cerebrospinal fluid. The hypothesis was tested directly using the AQP-4 facilitator TGN-073 developed in our laboratory, and [17O]H2O JJ vicinal coupling proton exchange MRI, a method capable of tracing water molecules delivered into the blood circulation. The results unambiguously showed that facilitation of AQP-4 by TGN-073 increased turnover of interstitial fluid through the system, resulting in a significant reduction in [17O]H2O contents of cortex with normal flux into the cerebrospinal fluid. The study further suggested that in addition to providing the necessary water for proper glymphatic flow, the AQP-4 system produces a water gradient within the interstitial space promoting circulation of interstitial fluid within the BBB.

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