Convection-enhanced drug delivery to the brain: therapeutic potential and neuropathological considerations

Brain Pathol. 2014 Mar;24(2):117-27. doi: 10.1111/bpa.12082. Epub 2013 Sep 11.


Convection-enhanced delivery (CED) describes a direct method of drug delivery to the brain through intraparenchymal microcatheters. By establishing a pressure gradient at the tip of the infusion catheter in order to exploit bulk flow through the interstitial spaces of the brain, CED offers a number of advantages over conventional drug delivery methods-bypass of the blood-brain barrier, targeted distribution through large brain volumes and minimization of systemic side effects. Despite showing early promise, CED is yet to fulfill its potential as a mainstream strategy for the treatment of neurological disease. Substantial research effort has been dedicated to optimize the technology for CED and identify the parameters, which govern successful drug distribution. It seems likely that successful clinical translation of CED will depend on suitable catheter technology being used in combination with drugs with optimal physicochemical characteristics, and on neuropathological analysis in appropriate preclinical models. In this review, we consider the factors most likely to influence the success or failure of CED, and review its application to the treatment of high-grade glioma, Parkinson's disease (PD) and Alzheimer's disease (AD).

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Parkinson's disease; blood-brain barrier; convection-enhanced delivery; drug delivery; glioma; perivascular spaces.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy
  • Brain Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Catheters
  • Convection
  • Drug Delivery Systems / instrumentation*
  • Glioma / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease / drug therapy