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Neurosurgery. 1986 Oct;19(4):573-82.

Therapeutic efficacy of multiagent chemotherapy with drug delivery enhancement by blood-brain barrier modification in glioblastoma.


Reversible osmotic blood-brain barrier (BBB) modification was used in 38 patients with glioblastoma to enhance the delivery of chemotherapeutic agents. The patients ranged in age from 14 to 70 years (mean, 43), and all had prior surgery and radiation; 5 had also received systemic chemotherapy. Karnofsky Performance Status (KPS) scores ranged from 60 to 100% (mean, 79) on admission to the treatment program. Barrier modification was achieved by intracarotid or intravertebral artery infusion of mannitol, and a chemotherapy regimen of methotrexate, cytoxan, and procarbazine was given in conjunction with barrier modification. The 38 glioblastoma patients were compared to two control groups of patients with glioblastoma; these encompassed 14 patients treated with surgery and radiation and 8 treated with surgery, radiation, and systemic chemotherapy. Survival analysis using the Cox Proportional Hazards Regression Model (corrected for age, sex, presence or absence of necrosis, and functional status) showed that patients receiving chemotherapy with BBB modification had a statistically significant (P = 0.0006) longer expected survival (17.5 months) than the control groups (12.8 and 11.4 months, respectively). Presently 16 patients of the barrier-enhanced treatment group are alive at 5 to 42 months from diagnosis (median, 20) with KPS scores ranging from 40 to 90% (median, 65). The neurological complications seen included a stroke-like syndrome in 3 patients (1 with decreased motor movement in the hand, 1 with marked hemiparesis, and 1 with hemiplegia), transient exacerbation of preexisting neurological deficits lasting 2 to 3 days, and a 15% incidence of seizures during or within 24 hours of the BBB modification. In 2 of the 38 patients, radiographic documentation of central nervous system tumor regression concurrent with the development of new tumor nodule(s) in portions of the brain distant from the region of osmotic BBB opening was seen. These studies indicate that chemotherapeutic drug delivery to tumors (as well as surrounding brain) can be augmented by osmotic BBB modification and that such therapy can result in a prolongation of survival.

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