Plasma and cerebrospinal fluid pharmacokinetics of select chemotherapeutic agents following intranasal delivery in a non-human primate model

James C. League-Pascual*, Cynthia M. Lester-McCully, Shaefali Shandilya, Lukas Ronner, Louis Rodgers, Rafael Cruz, Cody J. Peer, William D. Figg, Katherine E. Warren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The blood–brain barrier (BBB) limits entry of most chemotherapeutic agents into the CNS, resulting in inadequate exposure within CNS tumor tissue. Intranasal administration is a proposed means of delivery that can bypass the BBB, potentially resulting in more effective chemotherapeutic exposure at the tumor site. The objective of this study was to evaluate the feasibility and pharmacokinetics (plasma and CSF) of intranasal delivery using select chemotherapeutic agents in a non-human primate (NHP) model. Three chemotherapeutic agents with known differences in CNS penetration were selected for intranasal administration in a NHP model to determine proof of principle of CNS delivery, assess tolerability and feasibility, and to evaluate whether certain drug characteristics were associated with increased CNS exposure. Intravenous (IV) temozolomide (TMZ), oral (PO) valproic acid, and PO perifosine were administered to adult male rhesus macaques. The animals received a single dose of each agent systemically and intranasally in separate experiments, with each animal acting as his own control. The dose of the agents administered systemically was the human equivalent of a clinically appropriate dose, while the intranasal dose was the maximum achievable dose based on the volume limitation of 1 mL. Multiple serial paired plasma and CSF samples were collected and quantified using a validated uHPLC/tandem mass spectrometry assay after each drug administration. Pharmacokinetic parameters were estimated using non-compartmental analysis. CSF penetration was calculated from the ratio of areas under the concentration–time curves for CSF and plasma (AUCCSF:plasma). Intranasal administration was feasible and tolerable for all agents with no significant toxicities observed. For TMZ, the degrees of CSF drug penetration after intranasal and IV administration were 36 (32–57) and 22 (20–41)%, respectively. Although maximum TMZ drug concentration in the CSF (Cmax) was lower after intranasal delivery compared to IV administration due to the lower dose administered, clinically significant exposure was achieved in the CSF after intranasal administration with the lower doses. This was associated with lower systemic exposure, suggesting increased efficiency and potentially lower toxicities of TMZ after intranasal delivery. For valproic acid and perifosine, CSF penetration after intranasal delivery was similar to systemic administration. Although this study demonstrates feasibility and safety of intranasal drug administration, further agent-specific studies are necessary to optimize agent selection and dosing to achieve clinically-relevant CSF exposures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-407
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuro-Oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 May 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Chemotherapy
  • DIPG
  • Intranasal
  • Non-human primate
  • Perifosine
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Temozolomide
  • Valproic acid


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