A strategy for delivering peptides into the central nervous system by sequential metabolism

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Science  18 Sep 1992:
Vol. 257, Issue 5077, pp. 1698-1700
DOI: 10.1126/science.1529356


Most peptides do not enter the central nervous system because of their hydrophilic character and the presence of peptidolytic enzymes in the lipoidal blood-brain barrier. To achieve brain delivery of a peptide conjugate, an opioid peptide (enkephalin) was placed in a molecular environment that disguises its peptide nature and provides biolabile, lipophilic functions to penetrate the blood-brain barrier by passive transport. The strategy also incorporates a 1,4-dihydrotrigonellinate targetor that undergoes an enzymatically mediated oxidation to a hydrophilic, membrane-impermeable trigonellinate salt. The polar targetorpeptide conjugate that is trapped behind the lipoidal blood-brain barrier is deposited in the central nervous system. Analgesia was observed with "packaged" enkephalin but not with the unmodified peptide or lipophilic peptide precursors.