To assess the potential of delivering nerve growth factor (NGF) to the brain along the olfactory neural pathway for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
Recombinant human NGF (rhNGF) was given as nose drops to anesthetized rats. The rhNGF concentrations in the brain were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
Following olfactory administration, rhNGF reached the brain within an hour, achieving a concentration of 3400 pM in the olfactory bulb, 660–2200 pM in other brain regions and, 240 pM and 180 pM in the hippocampus and the amygdala, respectively. In contrast, little or no rhNGF was found in the brain following intravenous administration.
A significant amount of rhNGF can be delivered to the brain via the olfactory pathway. The detection of rhNGF by ELISA indicates that rhNGF is delivered to the brain relatively intact. The rapid appearance of rhNGF in the brain suggests that it may be transported by an extraneuronal route into the brain via intercellular clefts in the olfactory epithelium. Further work to clarify the transport mechanism is underway. The olfactory pathway is a promising, non-invasive route for drug delivery to the brain, which has potential for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease.