Computational and In Vitro Experimental Investigation of Intrathecal Drug Distribution: Parametric Study of the Effect of Injection Volume, Cerebrospinal Fluid Pulsatility, and Drug Uptake

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Intrathecal drug delivery is an attractive option to circumvent the blood-brain barrier for pain management through its increased efficacy of pain relief, reduction in adverse side effects, and cost-effectiveness. Unfortunately, there are limited guidelines for physicians to choose infusion or drug pump settings to administer therapeutic doses to specific regions of the spine or the brain. Although empiric trialing of intrathecal drugs is critical to determine the sustained side effects, currently there is no inexpensive in vitro method to guide the selection of spinal drug delivery parameters. The goal of this study is to demonstrate current computational capabilities to predict drug biodistribution while varying 3 parameters: (1) infusion settings, (2) drug chemistry, and (3) subject-specific anatomy and cerebrospinal fluid dynamics. We will discuss strategies to systematically optimize these 3 parameters to administer drug molecules to targeted tissue locations in the central nervous system.

METHODS:

We acquired anatomical data from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and velocity measurements in the spinal cerebrospinal fluid with CINE-MRI for 2 subjects. A bench-top surrogate of the subject-specific central nervous system was constructed to match measured anatomical dimensions and volumes. We generated a computational mesh for the bench-top model. Idealized simulations of tracer distribution were compared with bench-top measurements for validation. Using reconstructions from MRI data, we also introduced a subject-specific computer model for predicting drug spread for the human volunteer.

RESULTS:

MRI velocity measurements at 3 spinal regions of interest reasonably matched the simulated flow fields in a subject-specific computer mesh. Comparison between the idealized spine computations and bench-top tracer distribution experiments demonstrate agreement of our drug transport predictions to this physical model. Simulated multibolus drug infusion theoretically localizes drug to the cervical and thoracic region. Continuous drug pump and single bolus injection were successful to target the lumbar spine in the simulations. The parenchyma might be targeted suitably by multiple boluses followed by a flush infusion. We present potential guidelines that take into account drug specific kinetics for tissue uptake, which influence the speed of drug dispersion in the model and potentially influence tissue targeting.

CONCLUSIONS:

We present potential guidelines considering drug-specific kinetics of tissue uptake, which determine the speed of drug dispersion and influence tissue targeting. However, there are limitations to this analysis in that the parameters were obtained from an idealized healthy patient in a supine position. The proposed methodology could assist physicians to select clinical infusion parameters for their patients and provide guidance to optimize treatment algorithms. In silico optimization of intrathecal drug delivery therapies presents the first steps toward a possible care paradigm in the future that is specific to personalized patient anatomy and diseases.

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