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Paul F. Morrison, Russell R. Lonser, and Edward H. Oldfield


The authors conducted an analysis of the distribution of glial cell line–derived neurotrophic factor in the human striatum following convection-enhanced delivery.


Computational examinations of the effects of differing catheters, infusion rates, infusate concentrations, and target placement on distribution were completed based on the protocols of three recent clinical trials.


Similar drug distributions around on-target end-hole catheters were predicted in two of the trials (AmgenUT study and Bristol study), although there was slightly deeper penetration for one of the trials (Bristol) due to a higher infusate concentration. However, when positioning uncertainly located catheter tips close to gray–white matter interfaces, backflow could diminish delivery, shunting infusate across the interfaces. For delivery via a multiport catheter at a constant base infusion rate plus a periodic bolus inflow rate (Kentucky study), base inflow alone generated a somewhat smaller distribution volume relative to those in the other trials, was positioned more anteriorly in the putamen, and was somewhat elongated axially; the bolus component extended this putaminal distribution to a larger relative volume but may have been reduced by backflow loss.


Results of these computations indicated that for catheters placed exactly on the intended target, ideal drug distributions were similar for two of the trials (AmgenUT and Bristol) and different in terms of location and extent in the third study (Kentucky); yet the pattern of trial outcomes did not reflect these same groupings. This finding suggests that other factors are at play, widely varying statistical power and the possible effects of not excluding data from patients who experienced large drug losses across gray tissue boundaries due to variation in catheter placement.

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J. David Wood, Russell R. Lonser, Nitin Gogate, Paul F. Morrison, and Edward H. Oldfield

Object. Many macromolecules have the potential to enhance recovery after injury and other lesions of the spinal cord, but because of the limited penetration of these compounds across the blood—spinal cord barrier, they cannot be used effectively. To determine if convective delivery could be used in a common animal model to investigate potential therapeutic macromolecules and to examine the effects of trauma on convective delivery in that model, the authors examined the distribution of a macromolecule in naive and traumatized rat spinal cords.

Methods. Using convection, various infusion volumes ([Vi]; 1, 2, and 4 µl) of 14C-albumin were infused into the dorsal columns of 13 naive and five traumatized rat spinal cords. Volume of distribution (Vd), homogeneity, percentage of recovery, and anatomical location were determined using quantitative autoradiography, scintillation analysis, calculation of kurtosis (K) value, and histological analysis. In the nontraumatized group, Vd was linearly proportional (R2 = 0.98) to Vi (Vd/Vi, 4.3 ± 0.6; mean ± standard deviation), with increases in Vd resulting from linear expansion (R2 = 0.94) primarily in the craniocaudal dimension. In the traumatized spinal cords, the Vd/Vi ratio (3.7 ± 0.5) was smaller (p < 0.02) and distributions were less confined to the craniocaudal dimension, with significantly larger cross-sectional distributions in the region of injury (p < 0.02) compared to the noninjured spinal cords. Histological analysis revealed that after infusion into the dorsal columns, albumin distribution in naive cords was limited to the dorsal white matter, but in the traumatized cords there was penetration into the central gray matter. The distribution of the infusate was homogeneous in the nontraumatized (K = −1.1) and traumatized (K = −1.1) spinal cords. Recovery of radioactivity was not significantly different (p > 0.05) between the nontraumatized (84.8 ± 6.8%) and traumatized (79.7 ± 12.1%) groups.

Conclusions. Direct convective delivery of infusate can be used to distribute macromolecules in a predictable, homogeneous manner over significant volumes of naive and traumatized rat spinal cord. These characteristics make it a valuable tool to investigate the therapeutic potential of various compounds for the treatment of injury and spinal cord disease.

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Russell R. Lonser, Malisa Sarntinoranont, Paul F. Morrison, and Edward H. Oldfield

Convection-enhanced delivery (CED) is a bulk flow–driven process. Its properties permit direct, homogeneous, targeted perfusion of CNS regions with putative therapeutics while bypassing the blood-brain barrier. Development of surrogate imaging tracers that are co-infused during drug delivery now permit accurate, noninvasive real-time tracking of convective infusate flow in nervous system tissues. The potential advantages of CED in the CNS over other currently available drug delivery techniques, including systemic delivery, intrathecal and/or intraventricular distribution, and polymer implantation, have led to its application in research studies and clinical trials. The authors review the biophysical principles of convective flow and the technology, properties, and clinical applications of convective delivery in the CNS.

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Russell R. Lonser, Robert J. Weil, Paul F. Morrison, Lance S. Governale, and Edward H. Oldfield

Object. Although many macromolecules have treatment potential for peripheral nerve disease, clinical use of these agents has been restricted because of limitations of delivery including systemic toxicity, heterogeneous dispersion, and inadequate distribution. In an effort to overcome these obstacles, the authors examined the use of convection to deliver and distribute macromolecules into peripheral nerves.

Methods. For convective delivery, the authors used a gas-tight, noncompliant system that provided continuous flow through a small silica cannula (inner diameter 100 µm, outer diameter 170 µm) inserted into a peripheral nerve. Increases in the volume of infusion (Vi) (10, 20, 30, 40, and 80 µl) of 14C-labeled (nine nerves) or gadolinium-labeled (two nerves) albumin were infused unilaterally or bilaterally into the tibial nerves of six primates (Macaca mulatta) at 0.5 µl/minute. The volume of distribution (Vd), percentage recovery, and delivery homogeneity were determined using quantitative autoradiography, an imaging program developed by the National Institutes of Health, magnetic resonance (MR) imaging, scintillation counting, and kurtosis (K) analysis. One animal that was infused bilaterally with gadolinium-bound albumin (40 µl to each nerve) underwent MR imaging and was observed for 16 weeks after infusion.

The Vd increased with the Vi in a logarithmic fashion. The mean Vd/Vi ratio over all Vi was 3.7 ± 0.8 (mean ± standard deviation). The concentration across the perfused region was homogeneous (K = −1.07). The infusate, which was limited circumferentially by the epineurium, followed the parallel arrangement of axonal fibers and filled long segments of nerve (up to 6.8 cm). Recovery of radioactivity was 75.8 ± 9%. No neurological deficits arose from infusion.

Conclusions. Convective delivery of macromolecules to peripheral nerves is safe and reliable. It overcomes obstacles associated with current delivery methods and allows selective regional delivery of putative therapeutic agents to long sections of nerve. This technique should permit the development of new treatments for numerous types of peripheral nerve lesions.

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Russell R. Lonser, Marc-Etienne Corthésy, Paul F. Morrison, Nitin Gogate, and Edward H. Oldfield

Object. Selective treatment of central nervous system (CNS) structures holds therapeutic promise for many neurological disorders, including Parkinson's disease (PD). The ability to inhibit or augment specific neuronal populations within the CNS reliably by using present therapeutic techniques is limited. To overcome this problem, the authors modeled and developed a method in which convection was used to deliver compounds to deep brain nuclei in a reproducible, homogeneous, and targeted manner. To determine the feasibility and clinical efficacy of convective drug delivery for treatment of a neurological disorder, the investigators selectively ablated globus pallidus internus (GPi) neurons with quinolinic acid (QA), an excitotoxin, in the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)—induced model of primate parkinsonism.

Methods. After the parameters of convective distribution to the GPi were confirmed by infusion of biotinylated albumin into the GPi of a primate (Macaca mulatta), seven adult monkeys of this species were rendered either fully parkinsonian by intravenous injections of MPTP (five animals) or hemiparkinsonian by a right-sided intracarotid injection of this agent (two monkeys). Using convection-enhanced delivery to the GPi, animals were infused with either QA (three fully parkinsonian, two hemiparkinsonian) or saline (two fully parkinsonian).

The three fully parkinsonian animals that underwent GPi lesioning with QA had substantial improvement of PD symptoms, manifested by a marked increase in activity (34 ± 2.5%; mean ± standard deviation) and dramatic improvement of parkinsonian clinical scores. In contrast, the control animals did not improve (activity monitor change = −1.5 × 0.5%). The two hemiparkinsonian animals that underwent QA lesioning of the GPi had dramatic recovery of extremity use. Histological examination revealed selective neural ablation of GPi neurons (mean loss 87%) with sparing of surrounding gray and white matter structures. No animal developed worsening signs of PD or neurological deficits after infusion.

Conclusions. Convection-enhanced delivery of QA permits selective, region-specific (GPi), and safe lesioning of neuronal subpopulations, resulting in dramatic improvement in parkinsonian symptomatology. The properties of convection-enhanced delivery indicate that this method could be used for chemical neurosurgery for medically refractory PD and that it may be ideal for cell-specific therapeutic ablation or trophic treatment of other targeted structures associated with CNS disorders.

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Russell R. Lonser, Nitin Gogate, Paul F. Morrison, J. David Wood, and Edward H. Oldfield

Object. Because of the limited penetration of macromolecules across the blood—spinal cord barrier, numerous therapeutic compounds with potential for treating spinal cord disorders cannot be used effectively. The authors have developed a technique to deliver and distribute macromolecules regionally in the spinal cord by using convection in the interstitial space.

Methods. The authors designed a delivery system connected to a “floating” silica cannula (inner diameter 100 µm, outer diameter 170 µm) that provides for constant volumetric inflow to the spinal cord. A solution containing albumin that was either unlabeled or labeled with carbon-14 or gadolinium was infused at various volumes (3, 6, 10, 20, 40, or 50 µl) at a rate of 0.1 µl/minute into the spinal cord dorsal columns of nine swine and into the lateral columns of three primates (Macaca mulatta). Volume of distribution (Vd), concentration homogeneity, and percentage of recovery were determined using scintillation analysis, kurtosis calculation (K), and quantitative autoradiography (six swine), magnetic resonance imaging (one swine and three primates), and histological analysis (all animals). Neurological function was observed for up to 3 days in four of the swine and up to 16 weeks in the three primates.

The Vd of 14C-albumin was linearly proportional (R2 = 0.97) to the volume of infusion (Vi) (Vd/Vi = 4.4 ± 0.5; [mean ± standard deviation]). The increases in Vd resulting from increases in Vi were primarily in the longitudinal dimension (R2 = 0.83 in swine; R2 = 0.98 in primates), allowing large segments of spinal cord (up to 4.3 cm; Vi 50 µl) to be perfused with the macromolecule. The concentration across the area of distribution was homogeneous (K = −1.1). The mean recovery of infused albumin from the spinal cord was 85.5 ± 5.6%. Magnetic resonance imaging and histological analysis combined with quantitative autoradiography revealed the albumin infusate to be preferentially distributed along the white matter tracts. No animal exhibited a neurological deficit as a result of the infusion.

Conclusions. Regional convective delivery provides reproducible, safe, region-specific, and homogeneous distribution of macromolecules over large longitudinal segments of the spinal cord. This delivery method overcomes many of the obstacles associated with current delivery techniques and provides for research into new treatments of various conditions of the spinal cord.

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Daniel M. Lieberman, Douglas W. Laske, Paul F. Morrison, Krzysztof S. Bankiewicz, and Edward H. Oldfield

✓ Many novel experimental therapeutic agents, such as neurotrophic factors, enzymes, biological modifiers, and genetic vectors, do not readily cross the blood-brain barrier. An effective strategy to deliver these compounds to the central nervous system is required for their application in vivo. Under normal physiological conditions, brain interstitial fluid moves by both bulk flow (convection) and diffusion. It has recently been shown that interstitial infusion into the white matter can be used to increase bulk flow, produce interstitial convection, and efficiently and homogeneously deliver drugs to large regions of brain without significant functional or structural damage. In theory, even more uniform distribution is likely in gray matter.

In the current study, four experiments were performed to examine if convection-enhanced delivery could be used to achieve regional distribution of large molecules in gray matter. First, the volume and consistency of anatomical distribution of 20 µl of phaseolus vulgaris-leukoagglutinin (PHA-L; molecular weight (MW) 126 kD) after continuous high-flow microinfusion into the striatum of five rats over 200 minutes were determined using immunocytochemistry and quantified with image analysis. Second, the concentration profile of 14C-albumin (MW 69 kD) infused under identical conditions was determined in four hemispheres using quantitative autoradiography. Third, the volume of distribution after convection-enhanced infusion of 250 or 500 µl biotinylated dextran (b-dextran, MW 10 kD), delivered over 310 minutes into the caudate and putamen of a rhesus monkey from one (250 µl) or two (500 µl) cannulas, was determined using immunocytochemistry and quantified with image analysis. Finally, the ability to target all dopaminergic neurons of the nigrostriatal tract via perfusion of the striatum with subsequent retrograde transport was assessed in three experiments by immunohistochemical analysis of the mesencephalon following a 300-minute infusion of 27 µl horseradish peroxidase-labeled wheat germ agglutinin (WGA-HRP) into the striatum.

Convection-enhanced delivery reproducibly distributed the large-compound PHA-L throughout the rat striatum (the percent volume of the striatum perfused, Vs, was 86% ± 5%; mean ± standard deviation) and produced a homogeneous tissue concentration in the perfused region (concentration of 14C-albumin relative to infusate concentration 30% ± 5%). In the monkey, the infusion widely distributed b-dextran within the striatum using one cannula (caudate and putamen Vs = 76% and 76%) or two cannulas (Vs = 90% and 71%). Perfusion of the rat striatum with WGA-HRP effectively targeted neurons throughout the pars compacta of the substantia nigra via their efferent connections in the nigrostriatal pathway.

Convection-enhanced infusion into gray matter distributes large molecules extensively at a relatively homogeneous concentration. This technique for effective acute delivery of large molecules into the gray matter has several advantages over diffusion alone and has a wide spectrum of potential applications in laboratory and clinical neuroscience.

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Michael Y. Chen, Russell R. Lonser, Paul F. Morrison, Lance S. Governale, and Edward H. Oldfield

Object. Although recent studies have shown that convection can be used to distribute macromolecules within the central nervous system (CNS) in a homogeneous, targeted fashion over clinically significant volumes and that the volume of infusion and target location (gray as opposed to white matter) influence distribution, little is known about other factors that may influence optimum use of convection-enhanced distribution. To understand the variables that affect convective delivery more fully, we examined the rate of infusion, delivery cannula size, concentration of infusate, and preinfusion sealing time.

Methods. The authors used convection to deliver 4 µl of 14C-albumin to the striatum of 40 rats. The effect of the rate of infusion (0.1, 0.5, 1, and 5 µl/minute), cannula size (32, 28, and 22 gauge), concentration of infusate (100%, 50%, and 25%), and preinfusion sealing time (0 and 70 minutes) on convective delivery was examined using quantitative autoradiography, National Institutes of Health image analysis software, scintillation analysis, and histological analysis.

Higher rates of infusion (1 and 5 µl/minute) caused significantly (p < 0.05) more leakback of infusate (22.7 ± 11.7% and 30.3 ± 7.8% [mean ± standard deviation], respectively) compared with lower rates (0.1 µl/minute [4 ± 3.6%] and 0.5 µl/minute [5.2 µ 3.6%]). Recovery of infusate was significantly (p < 0.05) higher at the infusion rate of 0.1 µl/minute (95.1 ± 2.8%) compared with higher rates (85.2 ± 4%). The use of large cannulae (28 and 22 gauge) produced significantly (p < 0.05) more leakback (35.7 ± 8.1% and 21.1 ± 7.5%, respectively) than the smaller cannula (32 gauge [5.2 ± 3.6%]). Varying the concentration of the infusate and the preinfusion sealing time did not alter the volume of distribution, regional distribution, or infusate recovery.

Conclusions. Rate of infusion and cannula size can significantly affect convective distribution of molecules, whereas preinfusion sealing time and variations in infusate concentration have no effect in this small animal model. Understanding the parameters that influence convective delivery within the CNS can be used to enhance delivery of potentially therapeutic agents in an experimental setting and to indicate the variables that will need to be considered for optimum use of this approach for drug delivery in the clinical setting.

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David Croteau, Stuart Walbridge, Paul F. Morrison, John A. Butman, Alexander O. Vortmeyer, Dennis Johnson, Edward H. Oldfield, and Russell R. Lonser

Object. Convection-enhanced delivery (CED) is increasingly used to distribute therapeutic agents to locations in the central nervous system. The optimal application of convective distribution of various agents requires the development of imaging tracers to monitor CED in vivo in real time. The authors examined the safety and utility of an iodine-based low-molecular-weight surrogate tracer for computerized tomography (CT) scanning during CED.

Methods. Various volumes (total volume range 90–150 µ1) of iopamidol (MW 777 D) were delivered to the cerebral white matter of four primates (Macaca mulatta) by using CED. The distribution of this imaging tracer was determined by in vivo real-time and postinfusion CT scanning (≤ 5 days after infusion [one animal]) as well as by quantitative autoradiography (14C-sucrose [all animals] and 14C-dextran [one animal]), and compared with a mathematical model. Clinical observation (≤ 5 months) and histopathological analyses were used to evaluate the safety and toxicity of the tracer delivery.

Real-time CT scanning of the tracer during infusion revealed a clearly definable region of perfusion. The volume of distribution (Vd) increased linearly (r2 = 0.97) with an increasing volume of infusion (Vi). The overall Vd/Vi ratio was 4.1 ± 0.7 (mean ± standard deviation) and the distribution of infusate was homogeneous. Quantitative autoradiography confirmed the accuracy of the imaged distribution for a small (sucrose, MW 359 D) and a large (dextran, MW 70 kD) molecule. The distribution of the infusate was identifiable up to 72 hours after infusion. There was no clinical or histopathological evidence of toxicity in any animal.

Conclusions. Real-time in vivo CT scanning of CED of iopamidol appears to be safe, feasible, and suitable for monitoring convective delivery of drugs with certain features and low infusion volumes.

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Michael Y. Chen, Alan Hoffer, Paul F. Morrison, John F. Hamilton, Jeffrey Hughes, Kurt S. Schlageter, Jeongwu Lee, Brandon R. Kelly, and Edward H. Oldfield

Object. Achieving distribution of gene-carrying vectors is a major barrier to the clinical application of gene therapy. Because of the blood—brain barrier, the distribution of genetic vectors to the central nervous system (CNS) is even more challenging than delivery to other tissues. Direct intraparenchymal microinfusion, a minimally invasive technique, uses bulk flow (convection) to distribute suspensions of macromolecules widely through the extracellular space (convection-enhanced delivery [CED]). Although acute injection into solid tissue is often used for delivery of oligonucleotides, viruses, and liposomes, and there is preliminary evidence that certain of these large particles can spread through the interstitial space of the brain by the use of convection, the use of CED for distribution of viruses in the brain has not been systematically examined. That is the goal of this study.

Methods. Investigators used a rodent model to examine the influence of size, osmolarity of buffering solutions, and surface coating on the volumetric distribution of virus-sized nanoparticles and viruses (adeno-associated viruses and adenoviruses) in the gray matter of the brain. The results demonstrate that channels in the extracellular space of gray matter in the brain are large enough to accommodate virus-sized particles and that the surface characteristics are critical determinants for distribution of viruses in the brain by convection.

Conclusions. These results indicate that convective distribution can be used to distribute therapeutic viral vectors in the CNS.