Journal of Neuro-Oncology

, Volume 132, Issue 3, pp 401–407 | Cite as

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

  • James C. League-PascualEmail author
  • Cynthia M. Lester-McCully
  • Shaefali Shandilya
  • Lukas Ronner
  • Louis Rodgers
  • Rafael Cruz
  • Cody J. Peer
  • William D. Figg
  • Katherine E. Warren
Laboratory Investigation


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.


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



This work was presented in part at the 2015 Society of Neuro-Oncology and the Society of CNS Interstitial Delivery of Therapeutics (SNO-SCIDOT) Joint Conference on Therapeutic Delivery to the CNS in San Antonio, TX. This research was supported in part by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, Center for Cancer Research.


The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or views of the National Cancer Institute, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of the Army/Navy/Air Force, Department of Defense, or any other agency of the U.S. Government.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Authors James C. League-Pascual, Cynthia M. Lester-McCully, Shaefali Shandilya, Lukas Ronner, Louis Rodgers, Rafael Cruz, Cody J. Peer, William D. Figg, and Katherine E. Warren all individually declare no conflict of interest.

Research involving human and animal rights

The National Cancer Institute Animal Care and Use Committee approved this study. All applicable institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. This study does not contain any studies with human participants.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York (outside the USA) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • James C. League-Pascual
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Cynthia M. Lester-McCully
    • 2
  • Shaefali Shandilya
    • 2
  • Lukas Ronner
    • 2
    • 3
  • Louis Rodgers
    • 2
    • 3
  • Rafael Cruz
    • 2
  • Cody J. Peer
    • 3
  • William D. Figg
    • 3
  • Katherine E. Warren
    • 2
  1. 1.Fort Belvoir Community HospitalFort BelvoirUSA
  2. 2.Pediatric-Oncology BranchNational Cancer InstituteBethesdaUSA
  3. 3.Clinical Pharmacology Program, Office of the Clinical DirectorNational Cancer InstituteBethesdaUSA

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