The influence of anesthetic choice, PaCO2, and other factors on osmotic blood-brain barrier disruption in rats with brain tumor xenografts

Laura G. Remsen, Michael A. Pagel, Christopher I. McCormick, Steven A. Fiamengo, Gary Sexton, Edward A. Neuwelt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Increasing the delivery of therapeutic drugs to the brain improves outcome for patients with brain tumors. Osmotic opening of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) can markedly increase drug delivery, but achieving consistent, good quality BBB disruption (BBBD) is essential. We evaluated four experiments compared with our standard isoflurane/O2 protocol to improve the quality and consistency of BBBD and drug delivery to brain tumor and normal brain in a rat model. Success of BBBD was assessed qualitatively with the large molecular weight marker Evans blue albumin and quantitatively by measuring delivery of the low molecular weight marker [3H]-methotrexate. With isoflurane/O2 anesthesia, the effects of two BBBD drugs of different osmolalities were evaluated at two different infusion rates and infusion durations. Arabinose was superior to saline (P = 0.006) in obtaining consistent Evans blue staining in 16 of 24 animals, and it significantly increased [3H]-methotrexate delivery compared with saline in the tumor (0.388 ± 0.03 vs 0.135 ± 0.04; P = 0.0001), brain around the tumor (0.269 ± 0.03 vs 0.035 ± 0.03; P = 0.0001), brain distant to the tumor (0.445 ± 0.05 vs 0.034 ± 0.07; P = 0.001), and opposite hemisphere (0.024 ± 0.00 vs 0.016 ± 0.00; P = 0.0452). Forty seconds was better than 30 s (P = 0.0372) for drug delivery to the tumor. Under isoflurane/O2 anesthesia (n = 30), maintaining hypocarbia was better than hypercarbia (P = 0.025) for attaining good BBBD. A propofol/N2O regimen was compared with the isoflurane/O2 regimen, altering blood pressure, heart rate, and PaCO2 as covariates (n = 48). Propofol/N2O was superior to isoflurane/O2 by both qualitative and quantitative measures (P < 0.0001). Neurotoxicity and neuropathology with the propofol/N2O regimen was evaluated, and none was found. These data support the use of propofol/N2O along with maintaining hypocarbia to optimize BBBD in animals with tumors. Implications: Propofol/N2O anesthesia may be better than isoflurane/O2 for optimizing osmotic blood-brain barrier disruption for delivery of chemotherapeutic drugs to brain tumor and normal brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)559-567
Number of pages9
JournalAnesthesia and analgesia
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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