A least-squares-fitting procedure for an efficient preclinical ranking of passive transport across the blood–brain barrier endothelium

Christian Jorgensen*, Evan P. Troendle, Jakob P. Ulmschneider, Peter C. Searson, Martin B. Ulmschneider

*Corresponding author for this work

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The treatment of various disorders of the central nervous system (CNS) is often impeded by the limited brain exposure of drugs, which is regulated by the human blood–brain barrier (BBB). The screening of lead compounds for CNS penetration is challenging due to the biochemical complexity of the BBB, while experimental determination of permeability is not feasible for all types of compounds. Here we present a novel method for rapid preclinical screening of libraries of compounds by utilizing advancements in computing hardware, with its foundation in transition-based counting of the flux. This method has been experimentally validated for in vitro permeabilities and provides atomic-level insights into transport mechanisms. Our approach only requires a single high-temperature simulation to rank a compound relative to a library, with a typical simulation time converging within 24 to 72 h. The method offers unbiased thermodynamic and kinetic information to interpret the passive transport of small-molecule drugs across the BBB. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-549
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Computer-Aided Molecular Design
Issue number11
Early online date12 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023


  • Blood–brain barrier
  • Brain permeability
  • CNS penetration
  • Kinetics
  • Molecular dynamics
  • Transport properties

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