Localized delivery of therapeutic doxorubicin dose across the canine blood-brain barrier with hyperthermia and temperature sensitive liposomes

Drug Deliv. 2018 Nov;25(1):973-984. doi: 10.1080/10717544.2018.1461280.


Most drugs cannot penetrate the blood-brain barrier (BBB), greatly limiting the use of anti-cancer agents for brain cancer therapy. Temperature sensitive liposomes (TSL) are nanoparticles that rapidly release the contained drug in response to hyperthermia (>40 °C). Since hyperthermia also transiently opens the BBB, we hypothesized that localized hyperthermia can achieve drug delivery across the BBB when combined with TSL. TSL-encapsulated doxorubicin (TSL-Dox) was infused intravenously over 30 min at a dose of 0.94 mg/kg in anesthetized beagles (age ∼17 months). Following, a hyperthermia probe was placed 5-10 mm deep through one of four 3-mm skull burr holes. Hyperthermia was performed randomized for 15 or 30 min, at either 45 or 50 °C. Blood was drawn every 30 min to measure TSL-Dox pharmacokinetics. Nonsurvival studies were performed in four dogs, where brain tissue at the hyperthermia location was extracted following treatment to quantify doxorubicin uptake via high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and to visualize cellular uptake via fluorescence microscopy. Survival studies for 6 weeks were performed in five dogs treated by a single hyperthermia application. Local doxorubicin delivery correlated with hyperthermia duration and ranged from 0.11 to 0.74 μg/g of brain tissue at the hyperthermia locations, with undetectable drug uptake in unheated tissue. Fluorescence microscopy demonstrated doxorubicin delivery across the BBB. Histopathology in Haematoxylin & Eosin (H&E) stained samples demonstrated localized damage near the probe. No animals in the survival group demonstrated significant neurological deficits. This study demonstrates that localized doxorubicin delivery to the brain can be facilitated by TSL-Dox with localized hyperthermia with no significant neurological deficits.

Keywords: Thermosensitive liposomes; blood–brain barrier; doxorubicin; hyperthermia; liposomes; thermal therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / metabolism
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Biological Transport / physiology
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / metabolism*
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Dogs
  • Doxorubicin / metabolism*
  • Doxorubicin / pharmacology
  • Drug Delivery Systems / methods
  • Female
  • Fever / metabolism*
  • Liposomes / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Nanoparticles / metabolism
  • Temperature


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Liposomes
  • Doxorubicin