Ocular drug delivery targeted by iontophoresis in the suprachoroidal space using a microneedle

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Abstract

Treatment of many posterior-segment ocular indications would benefit from improved targeting of drug delivery to the back of the eye. Here, we propose the use of iontophoresis to direct delivery of negatively charged nanoparticles through the suprachoroidal space (SCS) toward the posterior pole of the eye. Injection of nanoparticles into the SCS of the rabbit eye ex vivo without iontophoresis led to a nanoparticle distribution mostly localized at the site of injection near the limbus and <15% of nanoparticles delivered to the most posterior region of SCS (>9 mm from the limbus). Iontophoresis using a novel microneedle-based device increased posterior targeting with >30% of nanoparticles in the most posterior region of SCS. Posterior targeting increased with increasing iontophoresis current and increasing application time up to 3 min, but further increasing to 5 min was not better, probably due to the observed collapse of the SCS within 5 min after injection ex vivo. Reversing the direction of iontophoretic flow inhibited posterior targeting, with just ˜5% of nanoparticles reaching the most posterior region of SCS. In the rabbit eye in vivo, iontophoresis at 0.14 mA for 3 min after injection of a 100 μL suspension of nanoparticles resulted in ˜30% of nanoparticles delivered to the most posterior region of the SCS, which was consistent with ex vivo findings. The procedure was well tolerated, with only mild, transient tissue effects at the site of injection. We conclude that iontophoresis in the SCS using a microneedle has promise as a method to target ocular drug delivery within the eye, especially toward the posterior pole.

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