Reciprocating drug delivery is a means of delivering soluble drugs directly to closed fluid spaces in the body via a single cannula without an accompanying fluid volume change. It is ideally suited for drug delivery into small, sensitive and unique fluid spaces such as the cochlea. We characterized the pharmacokinetics of reciprocating drug delivery to the scala tympani within the cochlea by measuring the effects of changes in flow parameters on the distribution of drug throughout the length of the cochlea. Distribution was assessed by monitoring the effects of DNQX, a reversible glutamate receptor blocker, delivered directly to the inner ear of guinea pigs using reciprocating flow profiles. We then modeled the effects of those parameters on distribution using both an iterative curve-fitting approach and a computational fluid dynamic model. Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis that reciprocating delivery distributes the drug into a volume in the base of the cochlea, and suggest that the primary determinant of distribution throughout more distal regions of the cochlea is diffusion. Increases in flow rate distributed the drug into a larger volume that extended more apically. Over short time courses (less than 2h), the apical extension, though small, significantly enhanced apically directed delivery of drug. Over longer time courses (>5h) or greater distances (>3mm), maintenance of drug concentration in the basal scala tympani may prove more advantageous for extending apical delivery than increases in flow rate. These observations demonstrate that this reciprocating technology is capable of providing controlled delivery kinetics to the closed fluid space in the cochlea, and may be suitable for other applications such as localized brain and retinal delivery.
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