Rapid brain penetration of interleukin-1 receptor antagonist in rat cerebral ischaemia: Pharmacokinetics, distribution, protection

A. D. Greenhalgh, J. Galea, A. Dénes, P. J. Tyrrell, N. J. Rothwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and purpose: Limited data on the brain penetration of potential stroke treatments have been cited as a major weakness contributing to numerous failed clinical trials. Thus, we tested whether interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1RA), established as a potent inhibitor of brain injury in animals and currently in clinical development, reaches the brain via a clinically relevant administration route, in experimental stroke. Experimental approach: Male, Sprague-Dawley rats [either naïve or exposed to middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo)] were given a single s.c. dose of IL-1RA (100 mg·kg -1). The pharmacokinetic profile of IL-1RA was assessed in plasma and CSF up to 24 h post-administration. Brain tissue distribution of administered IL-1RA was assessed using immunohistochemistry. In a separate experiment, the neuroprotective effect of the single s.c. dose of IL-1RA in MCAo was assessed versus a placebo control group. Key results: A single s.c. dose of IL-1RA reduced damage caused by MCAo by 33%. This dose resulted in sustained, high concentrations in plasma and CSF, penetrated brain tissue exclusively in areas of blood-brain barrier breakdown and co-localized with morphologically viable neurones. CSF concentrations did not reflect massive parenchymal infiltration of IL-1RA in MCAo animals compared to naïve. Conclusions and implications: These data are the first to show that a potential treatment for stroke, IL-1RA, rapidly reaches salvageable brain tissue via an administration route that is clinically relevant. This allows confidence that IL-1RA, as a candidate for further clinical development, is able to confer its protective actions both peripherally and centrally. © 2010 The British Pharmacological Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-159
Number of pages6
JournalBritish Journal of Pharmacology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 2010


  • Brain penetration
  • Cerebral ischaemia
  • Inflammation
  • Interleukin-1 receptor antagonist
  • Neuroprotection


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