Boron neutron capture therapy of brain tumors: biodistribution, pharmacokinetics, and radiation dosimetry sodium borocaptate in patients with gliomas

Neurosurgery. 2000 Sep;47(3):608-21; discussion 621-2. doi: 10.1097/00006123-200009000-00016.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to obtain tumor and normal brain tissue biodistribution data and pharmacokinetic profiles for sodium borocaptate (Na2B12H11SH) (BSH), a drug that has been used clinically in Europe and Japan for boron neutron capture therapy of brain tumors. The study was performed with a group of 25 patients who had preoperative diagnoses of either glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) or anaplastic astrocytoma (AA) and were candidates for debulking surgery. Nineteen of these patients were subsequently shown to have histopathologically confirmed diagnoses of GBM or AA, and they constituted the study population.

Methods: BSH (non-10B-enriched) was infused intravenously, in a 1-hour period, at doses of 15, 25, and 50 mg boron/kg body weight (corresponding to 26.5, 44.1, and 88.2 mg BSH/kg body weight, respectively) to groups of 3, 3, and 13 patients, respectively. Multiple samples of tumor tissue, brain tissue around the tumors, and normal brain tissue were obtained at either 3 to 7 or 13 to 15 hours after infusion. Blood samples for pharmacokinetic studies were obtained at times up to 120 hours after termination of the infusion. Sixteen of the patients underwent surgery at the Beijing Neurosurgical Institute and three at The Ohio State University, where all tissue samples were subsequently analyzed for boron content by direct current plasma-atomic emission spectroscopy.

Results: Blood boron values peaked at the end of the infusion and then decreased triexponentially during the 120-hour sampling period. At 6 hours after termination of the infusion, these values had decreased to 20.8, 29.1, and 62.6 microg/ml for boron doses of 15, 25, and 50 mg/kg body weight, respectively. For a boron dose of 50 mg/kg body weight, the maximum (mean +/- standard deviation) solid tumor boron values at 3 to 7 hours after infusion were 17.1+/-5.8 and 17.3+/-10.1 microg/g for GBMs and AAs, respectively, and the mean tumor value averaged across all samples was 11.9 microg/g for both GBMs and AAs. In contrast, the mean normal brain tissue values, averaged across all samples, were 4.6+/-5.1 and 5.5+/-3.9 microg/g and the tumor/normal brain tissue ratios were3.8 and 3.2 for patients with GBMs and AAs, respectively. The large standard deviations indicated significant heterogeneity in uptake in both tumor and normal brain tissue. Regions histopathologically classified either as a mixture of tumor and normal brain tissue or as infiltrating tumor exhibited slightly lower boron concentrations than those designated as solid tumor. After a dose of 50 mg/kg body weight, boron concentrations in blood decreased from 104 microg/ml at 2 hours to 63 microg/ml at 6 hours and concentrations in skin and muscle were 43.1 and 39.2 microg/g, respectively, during the 3- to 7-hour sampling period.

Conclusion: When tumor, blood, and normal tissue boron concentrations were taken into account, the most favorable tumor uptake data were obtained with a boron dose of 25 mg/kg body weight, 3 to 7 hours after termination of the infusion. Although blood boron levels were high, normal brain tissue boron levels were almost always lower than tumor levels. However, tumor boron concentrations were less than those necessary for boron neutron capture therapy, and there was significant intratumoral and interpatient variability in the uptake of BSH, which would make estimation of the radiation dose delivered to the tumor very difficult. It is unlikely that intravenous administration of a single dose of BSH would result in therapeutically useful levels of boron. However, combining BSH with boronophenylalanine, the other compound that has been used clinically, and optimizing their delivery could increase tumor boron uptake and potentially improve the efficacy of boron neutron capture therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Astrocytoma / blood
  • Astrocytoma / radiotherapy*
  • Astrocytoma / surgery
  • Biological Availability
  • Borohydrides / pharmacokinetics*
  • Boron Neutron Capture Therapy*
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Brain / radiation effects
  • Brain Neoplasms / blood
  • Brain Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Brain Neoplasms / surgery
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Female
  • Glioblastoma / blood
  • Glioblastoma / radiotherapy*
  • Glioblastoma / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Radiometry
  • Radiotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds / pharmacokinetics*
  • Tissue Distribution
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Borohydrides
  • Sulfhydryl Compounds
  • mercaptoundecahydrododecaborate