Chemotherapeutic drugs released from polymers: distribution of 1,3-bis(2-chloroethyl)-1-nitrosourea in the rat brain

Pharm Res. 1996 May;13(5):671-82. doi: 10.1023/a:1016083113123.


Purpose: The distribution of [(3)H]BCNU following release from polymer implants in the rat brain was measured and evaluated by using mathematical models.

Methods: [(3)H]BCNU was loaded into p(CPP:SA) pellets, which were subsequently implanted intracerebrally in rats; [(3)H]BCNU was also directly injected into the brains of normal rats and rats with intracranially transplanted 9L gliomas. Concentrations of [(3)H]BCNU on coronal sections of the brain were measured by autoradiography and image processing. For comparison, the kinetics of [(3)H]BCNU release from the p(CPP:SA) polymer discs into phosphate-buffered saline were also measured.

Results: High concentrations of BCNU (corresponding to 1 mM) were measured near the polymer for the entire 30-day experiment. The penetration distance, defined as the distance from the polymer surface to the point where the concentration of [(3)H]BCNU in the tissue had dropped to 10 percent of the maximum value, was determined: penetration distance was 5 mm at day 1 and 1 mm at days 3 through 14. Local concentration profiles were compared with a mathematical model for estimation of the modulus phi (2), an indicator of the relative rate of elimination to diffusion in the brain. From day 3 to 14, phi(2) was 7, indicating that BCNU elimination was rapid compared to the rate of diffusive penetration into tissue. The enhanced penetration observed on day 1 appears to be due to convection of extracellular fluid caused by transient, vasogenic edema, which disappears by day 3.

Conclusions: Polymer implants produce very high levels of BCNU in the brain, but BCNU penetration into brain tissue is limited due to rapid elimination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating / pharmacokinetics*
  • Autoradiography
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Carmustine / pharmacokinetics*
  • Drug Carriers
  • Male
  • Microinjections
  • Polymers
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred F344
  • Tritium


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating
  • Drug Carriers
  • Polymers
  • Tritium
  • Carmustine