Background and purpose: Limited data on the brain penetration of potential stroke treatments have been cited as a major weakness contributing to numerous failed clinical trials. Thus, we tested whether interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1RA), established as a potent inhibitor of brain injury in animals and currently in clinical development, reaches the brain via a clinically relevant administration route, in experimental stroke.
Experimental approach: Male, Sprague-Dawley rats [either naïve or exposed to middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo)] were given a single s.c. dose of IL-1RA (100 mg*kg(-1)). The pharmacokinetic profile of IL-1RA was assessed in plasma and CSF up to 24 h post-administration. Brain tissue distribution of administered IL-1RA was assessed using immunohistochemistry. In a separate experiment, the neuroprotective effect of the single s.c. dose of IL-1RA in MCAo was assessed versus a placebo control group.
Key results: A single s.c. dose of IL-1RA reduced damage caused by MCAo by 33%. This dose resulted in sustained, high concentrations in plasma and CSF, penetrated brain tissue exclusively in areas of blood-brain barrier breakdown and co-localized with morphologically viable neurones. CSF concentrations did not reflect massive parenchymal infiltration of IL-1RA in MCAo animals compared to naïve.
Conclusions and implications: These data are the first to show that a potential treatment for stroke, IL-1RA, rapidly reaches salvageable brain tissue via an administration route that is clinically relevant. This allows confidence that IL-1RA, as a candidate for further clinical development, is able to confer its protective actions both peripherally and centrally.