Although the use of multiple agents is efficacious in animal models of peripheral nerve injury, translation to clinical applications remains wanting. Previous agents used in trials in humans either engendered severe side effects or were ineffective. Because the blood-central nervous system barrier exists in nerves as it does in the brain, limited drug delivery poses a problem for translation of basic science advances into clinical applications. Convection-enhanced delivery (CED) is a promising adjunct to current therapies for peripheral nerve injury. In the present study the authors assessed the capacity of convection to ferry macromolecules across sites of nerve injury in rat and primate models, examined the functional effects of convection on the intact nerve, and investigated the possibility of delivering a macromolecule to the spinal cord via retrograde convection from a peripherally introduced catheter.The authors developed a rodent model of convective delivery to lesioned sciatic nerves (injury due to crush or laceration in 76 nerves) and compared the results to a smaller series of five primates with similar injuries. In the intact nerve, convective delivery of vehicle generated only a transient neurapraxic deficit. Early after injury (postinjury Days 1, 3, 7, and 10), infusion failed to cross the site of injury in crushed or lacerated nerves. Fourteen days after crush injury, CED of radioactively-labeled albumin resulted in perfusion through the site of injury to distal growing neurites. In primates, successful convection through the site of crush injury occurred by postinjury Day 28. In contrast, in laceration models there was complete occlusion of the extracellular space to convective distribution at the site of laceration and repair, and convective distribution in the extracellular space crossed the site of injury only after there was histological evidence of completion of nerve regeneration. Finally, in two primates, retrograde infusion into the spinal cord through a peripheral nerve was achieved.Convection provides a safe and effective means to deliver macromolecules to regenerating neurites in crush-injured peripheral nerves. Convection block in lacerated and suture-repaired nerves indicates a significant intraneural obstruction of the extracellular space. a disruption that suggests an anatomical obstruction to extracellular and, possibly, intraaxonal flow, which may impair nerve regeneration. Through peripheral retrograde infusion, convection can be used for delivery to spinal cord gray matter. Convection-enhanced delivery provides a promising approach to distribute therapeutic agents to targeted sites for treatment of disorders of the nerve and spinal cord.
View details for Web of Science ID 000172564600014
View details for PubMedID 11765815