Managing chronic pain with encapsulated cell implants releasing catecholamines and endogenous opioids
Winn SR, Emerich DF.
Department of Surgery,
Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery,
Department of Restorative Dentistry,
Division of Biomaterials and Biomechanics,
Oregon Health and Science University,
3181 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Road,
Portland OR 97239.
Front Biosci. 2005 Jan 01;10:367-78


Spinal injections (intrathecal) of norepinephrine and/or opiod agonists are antinociceptive and when administered together may act in synergy. Spinal implants of adrenal chromaffin cells are an effective method for sustained delivery of the analgesic substances norepinephrine and enkephalin to the central nervous system (CNS). One method of packaging and implanting cell-loaded devices into the intrathecal space of recipients is by encapsulating the cell suspensions in a polymer membrane prior to implantation. Cells/tissue packaged within an encapsulating membrane obviate the need for immunosuppressive therapies in transplant recipients. In addition, device output can be quantified prior to implantation, and following the removal of the spinal implant. The ability to retrieve the devices with the present tubular configuration also confers an additional margin of safety over unencapsulated chromaffin cell implants. This paper reviews the research and clinical observations of cellular transplants containing adrenal chromaffin cells for relieving chronic pain. Encapsulated cell technology is discussed with an emphasis on our experiences developing pain-modulating clinical devices. The human-sized prototype devices were loaded with enzymatically isolated bovine chromaffin cells and maintained in vitro for 7 - 8 days in serum-free media. Two days prior to implantation, each device was assayed by static incubation to measure catecholamine and met-enkephalin output, and qualified devices (n = 6) were implanted into the sheep subarachnoid space for 6 weeks. Following a 6 week in life period, the retrieval forces of prototype devices were measured during removal from the subarachnoid space. Static incubation of the devices immediately following retrieval and after a 24 hour re-incubation period were used to quantify norepinephrine and met-enkephalin secretion profiles. This study demonstrated the safety, retrievability and maintenance of pharmacologically active encapsulated chromaffin cell-loaded devices with human implant dimensions.
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