Human in silico trials for parametric computational fluid dynamics investigation of cerebrospinal fluid drug delivery: impact of injection location, injection protocol, and physiology

Fluids Barriers CNS. 2022 Jan 28;19(1):8. doi: 10.1186/s12987-022-00304-4.


Background: Intrathecal drug delivery has a significant role in pain management and central nervous system (CNS) disease therapeutics. A fluid-physics based tool to assist clinicians in choosing specific drug doses to the spine or brain may help improve treatment schedules.

Methods: This study applied computational fluid dynamics (CFD) and in vitro model verification to assess intrathecal drug delivery in an anatomically idealized model of the human CSF system with key anatomic features of the CNS. Key parameters analyzed included the role of (a) injection location including lumbar puncture (LP), cisterna magna (CM) and intracerebroventricular (ICV), (b) LP injection rate, injection volume, and flush volume, (c) physiologic factors including cardiac-induced and deep respiration-induced CSF stroke volume increase. Simulations were conducted for 3-h post-injection and used to quantify spatial-temporal tracer concentration, regional area under the curve (AUC), time to maximum concentration (Tmax), and maximum concentration (Cmax), for each case.

Results: CM and ICV increased AUC to brain regions by ~ 2 logs compared to all other simulations. A 3X increase in bolus volume and addition of a 5 mL flush both increased intracranial AUC to the brain up to 2X compared to a baseline 5 mL LP injection. In contrast, a 5X increase in bolus rate (25 mL/min) did not improve tracer exposure to the brain. An increase in cardiac and respiratory CSF movement improved tracer spread to the brain, basal cistern, and cerebellum up to ~ 2 logs compared to the baseline LP injection.

Conclusion: The computational modeling approach provides ability to conduct in silico trials representative of CSF injection protocols. Taken together, the findings indicate a strong potential for delivery protocols to be optimized to reach a target region(s) of the spine and/or brain with a needed therapeutic dose. Parametric modification of bolus rate/volume and flush volume was found to have impact on tracer distribution; albeit to a smaller degree than injection location, with CM and ICV injections resulting in greater therapeutic dose to brain regions compared to LP. CSF stroke volume and frequency both played an important role and may potentially have a greater impact than the modest changes in LP injection protocols analyzed such as bolus rate, volume, and flush.

Keywords: Biofluid mechanics; Biomechanics; Central nervous system; Cerebrospinal fluid; Cisterna magna drug delivery; Computational fluid dynamics; In vitro model; Intrathecal drug delivery; Magnetic resonance imaging; Multiphase solute transport; Ventricular drug delivery.

MeSH terms

  • Cerebrospinal Fluid*
  • Cisterna Magna*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Drug Delivery Systems*
  • Humans
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Injections, Intraventricular*
  • Injections, Spinal*
  • Models, Theoretical*