The utility of the nasal route for the systemic delivery of 17β-estradiol was studied using watersoluble prodrugs of 17β-estradiol. This delivery method was examined to determine if it will result in preferential delivery to the brain. Several alkyl prodrugs of 17β-estradiol were prepared and their physicochemical properties were determined. In vitro hydrolysis rate constants in buffer, rat plasma, and rat brain homogenate were determined by high-performance liquid chromatography. In vivo nasal experiments were carried out on rats. Levels of 17β-estradiol in plasma and cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) were determined with radioimunoassay using a gamma counter. The study revealed that the aqueous solubilities of the prodrugs were several orders of magnitude greater than 17β-estradiol with relatively fast in vitro conversion in rat plasma. Absorption was fast following nasal delivery of the prodrugs with high bioavailability. CSF 17β-estradiol concentration was higher following nasal delivery of the prodrugs compared to an equivalent intravenous dose. It was determined that water-soluble prodrugs of 17β-estradiol can be administered nasally. These prodrugs are capable of producing high levels of estradiol in the CSF and as a result may have a significant value in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.
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