MRI-guided focused ultrasound enhances drug delivery in experimental diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma

Joji Ishida, Saira Alli, Andrew Bondoc, Brian Golbourn, Nesrin Sabha, Kristina Mikloska, Stacey Krumholtz, Dilakshan Srikanthan, Naohide Fujita, Amanda Luck, Colin Maslink, Christian Smith, Kullervo Hynynen, James Rutka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) is a surgically unresectable and devasting tumour in children. To date, there are no effective chemotherapeutics despite a myriad of clinical trials. The intact blood-brain barrier (BBB) is likely responsible for the limited clinical response to chemotherapy. MRI-guided focused ultrasound (MRgFUS) is a promising non-invasive method for treating CNS tumours. Moreover, MRgFUS allows for the temporary and repeated disruption of the BBB. Our group previously reported the feasibility of temporary BBB opening within the normal murine brainstem using MRgFUS following intravenous (IV) administration of microbubbles. In the current study, we set out to test the effectiveness of targeted chemotherapy when paired with MRgFUS in murine models of DIPG. Doxorubicin was selected from a drug screen consisting of conventional chemotherapeutics tested on patient-derived cell lines. We studied the RCAS/Tv-a model where RCAS-Cre, RCAS-PDGFB, and RCAS-H3.3K27M were used to drive tumourigenesis upon injection in the pons. We also used orthotopically injected SU-DIPG-6 and SU-DIPG-17 xenografts which demonstrated a diffusely infiltrative tumour growth pattern similar to human DIPG. In our study, SU-DIPG-17 xenografts were more representative of human DIPG with an intact BBB. Following IV administration of doxorubicin, MRgFUS-treated animals exhibited a 4-fold higher concentration of drug within the SU-DIPG-17 brainstem tumours compared to controls. Moreover, the volumetric tumour growth rate was significantly suppressed in MRgFUS-treated animals whose tumours also exhibited decreased Ki-67 expression. Herein, we provide evidence for the ability of MRgFUS to enhance drug delivery in a mouse model of DIPG. These data provide critical support for clinical trials investigating MRgFUS-mediated BBB opening, which may ameliorate DIPG chemotherapeutic approaches in children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1034-1045
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Controlled Release
Publication statusPublished - Feb 10 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Blood-brain barrier
  • DIPG
  • Drug delivery
  • Glioma
  • MRgFUS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmaceutical Science


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