Background: There are no therapies shown to improve outcome after severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) in humans, a leading cause of morbidity and mortality. We sought to verify brain exposure of the systemically administered antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC) and the synergistic adjuvant probenecid, and identify adverse effects of this drug combination after severe TBI in children.
Methods: IRB-approved, randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled Phase I study in children 2 to 18 years-of-age admitted to a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit after severe TBI (Glasgow Coma Scale [GCS] score ≤8) requiring an externalized ventricular drain for measurement of intracranial pressure (ICP). Patients were recruited from November 2011-August 2013. Fourteen patients (n = 7/group) were randomly assigned after obtaining informed consent to receive probenecid (25 mg/kg load, then 10 mg/kg/dose q6h×11 doses) and NAC (140 mg/kg load, then 70 mg/kg/dose q4h×17 doses), or placebos via naso/orogastric tube. Serum and CSF samples were drawn pre-bolus and 1-96 h after randomization and drug concentrations were measured via UPLC-MS/MS. Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) score was assessed at 3 months.
Results: There were no adverse events attributable to drug treatment. One patient in the placebo group was withdrawn due to adverse effects. In the treatment group, NAC concentrations ranged from 16,977.3±2,212.3 to 16,786.1±3,285.3 in serum and from 269.3±113.0 to 467.9±262.7 ng/mL in CSF, at 24 to 72 h post-bolus, respectively; and probenecid concentrations ranged from 75.4.3±10.0 to 52.9±25.8 in serum and 5.4±1.0 to 4.6±2.1 μg/mL in CSF, at 24 to 72 h post-bolus, respectively (mean±SEM). Temperature, mean arterial pressure, ICP, use of ICP-directed therapies, surveillance serum brain injury biomarkers, and GOS at 3 months were not different between groups.
Conclusions: Treatment resulted in detectable concentrations of NAC and probenecid in CSF and was not associated with undesirable effects after TBI in children.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01322009.