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Pharm Res. 2011 Mar;28(3):456-71. doi: 10.1007/s11095-010-0291-7. Epub 2010 Oct 7.

In vivo methods to study uptake of nanoparticles into the brain.

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  • 1Department of Pharmaceutics Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Utrecht University, PO Box 80082, 3508 TB Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Several in vivo techniques have been developed to study and measure the uptake of CNS compounds into the brain. With these techniques, various parameters can be determined after drug administration, including the blood-to-brain influx constant (K(in)), the permeability-surface area (PS) product, and the brain uptake index (BUI). These techniques have been mostly used for drugs that are expected to enter the brain via transmembrane diffusion or by carrier-mediated transcytosis. Drugs that have limitations in entering the brain via such pathways have been encapsulated in nanoparticles (based on lipids or synthetic polymers) to enhance brain uptake. Nanoparticles are different from CNS compounds in size, composition and uptake mechanisms. This has led to different methods and approaches to study brain uptake in vivo. Here we discuss the techniques generally used to measure nanoparticle uptake in addition to the techniques used for CNS compounds. Techniques include visualization methods, behavioral tests, and quantitative methods.

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