The major problems associated with the use of corticosteroids for the treatment of ocular diseases are their poor intraocular penetration to the posterior segment when administered locally and their secondary side effects when given systemically. To circumvent these problems more efficient methods and techniques of local delivery are being developed. The purposes of this study were: (1) to investigate the pharmacokinetics of intraocular penetration of hemisuccinate methyl prednisolone (HMP) after its delivery using the transscleral Coulomb controlled iontophoresis (CCI) system applied to the eye or after intravenous (i.v.) injection in the rabbit, (2) to test the safety of the CCI system for the treated eyes and (3) to compare the pharmacokinetic profiles of HMP intraocular distribution after CCI delivery to i.v. injection. For each parameter evaluated, six rabbit eyes were used. For the CCI system, two concentrations of HMP (62.5 and 150mg ml(-1)), various intensities of current and duration of treatment were analyzed. In rabbits serving as controls the HMP was infused in the CCI device but without applied electric current. For the i.v. delivery, HMP at 10mg kg(-1)as a 62.5mg ml(-1)solution was used. The rabbits were observed clinically for evidence of ocular toxicity. At various time points after the administration of drug, rabbits were killed and intraocular fluids and tissues were sampled for methylprednisolone (MP) concentrations by high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC). Histology examinations were performed on six eyes of each group. Among groups that received CCI, the concentrations of MP increased in all ocular tissues and fluids in relation to the intensities of current used (0.4, 1.0 and 2.0mA/0.5cm(2)) and its duration (4 and 10min). Sustained and highest levels of MP were achieved in the choroid and the retina of rabbit eyes treated with the highest current and 10min duration of CCI. No clinical toxicity or histological lesions were observed following CCI. Negligible amounts of MP were found in ocular tissues in the CCI control group without application of current. Compared to i.v. administration, CCI achieved higher and more sustained tissue concentrations with negligible systemic absorption. These data demonstrate that high levels of MP can be safely achieved in intraocular tissues and fluids of the rabbit eye, using CCI. With this system, intraocular tissues levels of MP are higher than those achieved after i.v. injection. Furthermore, if needed, the drug levels achieved with CCI can be modulated as a function of current intensity and duration of treatment. CCI could therefore be used as an alternative method for the delivery of high levels of MP to the intraocular tissues of both the anterior and posterior segments.
Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd.