The blood-brain barrier significantly limits effective drug delivery to central nervous system (CNS) targets. The recently characterized glymphatic system offers a perivascular highway for intrathecally (i.t.) administered drugs to reach deep brain structures. Although periarterial cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) influx and concomitant brain drug delivery can be enhanced by pharmacological or hyperosmotic interventions, their effects on drug delivery to the spinal cord, an important target for many drugs, have not been addressed. Hence, we studied in rats whether enhancement of periarterial flow by systemic hypertonic solution might be utilized to enhance spinal delivery and efficacy of i.t. morphine. We also studied whether the hyperosmolar intervention affects brain or cerebrospinal fluid drug concentrations after systemic administration. Periarterial CSF influx was enhanced by intraperitoneal injection of hypertonic saline (HTS, 5.8%, 20 ml/kg, 40 mOsm/kg). The antinociceptive effects of morphine were characterized, using tail flick, hot plate and paw pressure tests. Drug concentrations in serum, tissue and microdialysis samples were determined by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. Compared with isotonic solution, HTS increased concentrations of spinal i.t. administered morphine by 240% at the administration level (T13-L1) at 60 min and increased the antinociceptive effect of morphine in tail flick, hot plate, and paw pressure tests. HTS also independently increased hot plate and paw pressure latencies but had no effect in the tail flick test. HTS transiently increased the penetration of intravenous morphine into the lateral ventricle, but not into the hippocampus. In conclusion, acute systemic hyperosmolality is a promising intervention for enhanced spinal delivery of i.t. administered morphine. The relevance of this intervention should be expanded to other i.t. drugs and brought to clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
Pages (from-to)214–224
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 3112 Neurosciences
  • 3111 Biomedicine
  • Glymphatic system
  • Drug delivery
  • Spinal cord
  • Opioids
  • Analgesia
  • Osmosis
  • PAIN

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