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Papers of the Week

2022 Mar 14

J Control Release

Systemic hypertonic saline enhances glymphatic spinal cord delivery of lumbar intrathecal morphine.


Blomqvist KJ, Skogster MOB, Kurkela MJ, Rosenholm MP, Ahlström FHG, Airavaara MT, Backman JT, Rauhala PV, Kalso EA, Lilius TO
J Control Release. 2022 Mar 14.
PMID: 35301056.


The blood-brain barrier significantly limits effective drug delivery to central nervous system (CNS) targets. The recently characterized glymphatic system offers a perivascular highway for intrathecally (i.t.) administered drugs to reach deep brain structures. Although periarterial cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) influx and concomitant brain drug delivery can be enhanced by pharmacological or hyperosmotic interventions, their effects on drug delivery to the spinal cord, an important target for many drugs, have not been addressed. Hence, we studied in rats whether enhancement of periarterial flow by systemic hypertonic solution might be utilized to enhance spinal delivery and efficacy of i.t. morphine. We also studied whether the hyperosmolar intervention affects brain or cerebrospinal fluid drug concentrations after systemic administration. Periarterial CSF influx was enhanced by intraperitoneal injection of hypertonic saline (HTS, 5.8%, 20 ml/kg, 40 mOsm/kg). The antinociceptive effects of morphine were characterized, using tail flick, hot plate and paw pressure tests. Drug concentrations in serum, tissue and microdialysis samples were determined by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Compared with isotonic solution, HTS increased concentrations of spinal i.t. administered morphine by 240% at the administration level (T13-L1) at 60 min and increased the antinociceptive effect of morphine in tail flick, hot plate, and paw pressure tests. HTS also independently increased hot plate and paw pressure latencies but had no effect in the tail flick test. HTS transiently increased the penetration of intravenous morphine into the lateral ventricle, but not into the hippocampus. In conclusion, acute systemic hyperosmolality is a promising intervention for enhanced spinal delivery of i.t. administered morphine. The relevance of this intervention should be expanded to other i.t. drugs and brought to clinical trials.