Dendrimer Brain Uptake and Targeted Therapy for Brain Injury in a Large Animal Model of Hypothermic Circulatory Arrest

Manoj K. Mishra, Claude A. Beaty, Wojciech G. Lesniak, Siva P. Kambhampati, Fan Zhang, Mary A. Wilson, Mary E. Blue, Juan C. Troncoso, Sujatha Kannan, Michael V. Johnston, William A. Baumgartner, Rangaramanujam M. Kannan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Treatment of brain injury following circulatory arrest is a challenging health issue with no viable therapeutic options. Based on studies in a clinically relevant large animal (canine) model of hypothermic circulatory arrest (HCA)-induced brain injury, neuroinflammation and excitotoxicity have been identified as key players in mediating the brain injury after HCA. Therapy with large doses of valproic acid (VPA) showed some neuroprotection but was associated with adverse side effects. For the first time in a large animal model, we explored whether systemically administered polyamidoamine (PAMAM) dendrimers could be effective in reaching target cells in the brain and deliver therapeutics. We showed that, upon systemic administration, hydroxyl-terminated PAMAM dendrimers are taken up in the brain of injured animals and selectively localize in the injured neurons and microglia in the brain. The biodistribution in other major organs was similar to that seen in small animal models. We studied systemic dendrimer-drug combination therapy with two clinically approved drugs, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) (attenuating neuroinflammation) and valproic acid (attenuating excitotoxicity), building on positive outcomes in a rabbit model of perinatal brain injury. We prepared and characterized dendrimer-NAC (D-NAC) and dendrimer-VPA (D-VPA) conjugates in multigram quantities. A glutathione-sensitive linker to enable for fast intracellular release. In preliminary efficacy studies, combination therapy with D-NAC and D-VPA showed promise in this large animal model, producing 24 h neurological deficit score improvements comparable to high dose combination therapy with VPA and NAC, or free VPA, but at one-tenth the dose, while significantly reducing the adverse side effects. Since adverse side effects of drugs are exaggerated in HCA, the reduced side effects with dendrimer conjugates and suggestions of neuroprotection offer promise for these nanoscale drug delivery systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2134-2147
Number of pages14
JournalACS Nano
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 25 2014


  • N -acetylcysteine
  • PAMAM dendrimers
  • biodistribution
  • brain injury
  • canine model
  • cardiac arrest
  • combination therapies
  • cytotoxicity
  • neuroinflammation
  • valproic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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