Research Article

Drug Delivery and Translational Research

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 201-209

First online:

Delivery of proteins to CNS as seen and measured by positron emission tomography

  • Mikhail I. PapisovAffiliated withMassachusetts General HospitalHarvard Medical SchoolShriners Hospitals for Children-Boston Email author 
  • , V. BelovAffiliated withMassachusetts General HospitalHarvard Medical SchoolShriners Hospitals for Children-Boston
  • , A. J. FischmanAffiliated withHarvard Medical SchoolShriners Hospitals for Children-Boston
  • , E. BelovaAffiliated withMassachusetts General HospitalHarvard Medical SchoolShriners Hospitals for Children-Boston
  • , J. TitusAffiliated withMassachusetts General Hospital
  • , M. GagneAffiliated withMassachusetts General Hospital
  • , C. GilloolyAffiliated withMassachusetts General Hospital

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Presently, there are no effective treatments for several diseases involving the central nervous system (CNS). While several novel molecular approaches are being developed, many of them require delivery of macromolecular or supramolecular agents to the CNS tissues protected by the blood–brain and blood–arachnoid barriers. A variety of approaches that are being developed for overcoming or bypassing the barriers are based on complex transfer processes. The delivery of biopharmaceuticals and other macromolecules and particulates to the CNS, especially through the leptomeningeal (intrathecal) route, includes a variety of stages, such as leptomeningeal propagation, drainage to the systemic circulation, and penetration into the CNS. The investigation of complex pharmacokinetics that includes convective, as well as diffusional and active transfer processes, greatly benefit from real-time non-invasive in vivo monitoring of the drug transport. Pharmacological positron emission tomography (PET) imaging, which enables such monitoring, plays an increasingly significant role in drug delivery and biopharmacology. PET is a powerful tool for quantitative in vivo tracking of molecules labeled with positron-emitting radionuclides. The high sensitivity, format, and accuracy of the data (similar to those of conventional tissue sampling biodistribution studies) make PET a readily adoptable pharmacological technique. In contrast to the conventional studies, PET also allows for longitudinal nonterminal same-animal studies. The latter may not only improve the data statistics, but also enable preclinical studies (especially in large and/or rare animals) not feasible under the conventional approach. This paper is intended to demonstrate the character of data that can be obtained by PET and to demonstrate how the main patterns of the leptomeningeal route pharmacokinetics can be investigated using this method. Examples of data processing are taken from our recent studies of five model proteins in rats and nonhuman primates.


PET Imaging Pharmacokinetics Biopharmaceuticals Macromolecules Brain Central nervous system Drug delivery Iodine-124