Bypassing the blood-brain barrier : direct intracranial drug delivery in epilepsies
Epilepsies are common chronic neurological diseases characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures of central origin. The mainstay of treatment involves symptomatic suppression of seizures with systemically applied antiseizure drugs (ASDs). Systemic pharmacotherapies for epilepsies are facing two main challenges. First, adverse effects from (often life-long) systemic drug treatment are common, and second, about one-third of patients with epilepsy have seizures refractory to systemic pharmacotherapy. Especially the drug resistance in epilepsies remains an unmet clinical need despite the recent introduction of new ASDs. Apart from other hypotheses, epilepsy-induced alterations of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) are thought to prevent ASDs from entering the brain parenchyma in necessary amounts, thereby being involved in causing drug-resistant epilepsy. Although an invasive procedure, bypassing the BBB by targeted intracranial drug delivery is an attractive approach to circumvent BBB-associated drug resistance mechanisms and to lower the risk of systemic and neurologic adverse effects. Additionally, it offers the possibility of reaching higher local drug concentrations in appropriate target regions while minimizing them in other brain or peripheral areas, as well as using otherwise toxic drugs not suitable for systemic administration. In our review, we give an overview of experimental and clinical studies conducted on direct intracranial drug delivery in epilepsies. We also discuss challenges associated with intracranial pharmacotherapy for epilepsies.