Biodistribution of Agmatine to Brain and Spinal Cord after Systemic Delivery

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Agmatine, an endogenous polyamine, has been shown to reduce chronic pain behaviors in animal models and in patients. This reduction is due to inhibition of the GluN2B subunit of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) in the central nervous system (CNS). The mechanism of action requires central activity, but the extent to which agmatine crosses biologic barriers such as the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and intestinal epithelium is incompletely understood. Determination of agmatine distribution is limited by analytical protocols with low sensitivity and/ or inefficient preparation. This study validated a novel bioanalytical protocol using high-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-MS/MS) for quantification of agmatine in rat biologic matrices. These protocols were then used to determine the plasma pharmacokinetics of agmatine and the extent of distribution to the CNS. Precision and accuracy of the protocol met US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards in surrogate matrix as well as in corrected concentrations in appropriate matrices. The protocol also adequately withstood stability and dilution conditions. Upon application of this protocol to pharmacokinetic study, intravenous agmatine showed a half-life in plasma ranging between 18.9 and 14.9 minutes. Oral administration led to a prolonged plasma half-life (74.4–117 minutes), suggesting flip-flop kinetics, with bioavailability determined to be 29%–35%. Intravenous administration led to a rapid increase in agmatine concentration in brain but a delayed distribution and lower concentrations in spinal cord. However, half-life of agmatine in both tissues is substantially longer than in plasma. These data suggest that agmatine adequately crosses biologic barriers in rat and that brain and spinal cord pharmacokinetics can be functionally distinct.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-336
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright ©2023 by The American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics.

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural


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