21 December 2017
One of the most challenging goals in pharmacological research is overcoming the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB) to deliver drugs to the Central Nervous System (CNS). The use of physical means, such as steady and alternating magnetic fields to drive nanocarriers with proper magnetic characteristics may prove to be a useful strategy. The present review aims at providing an up-to-date picture of the applications of magnetic-driven nanotheranostics agents to the CNS. Although well consolidated on physical ground, some of the techniques described herein are still under investigation on in vitro or in silico models, while others have already entered in—or are close to—clinical validation. The review provides a concise overview of the physical principles underlying the behavior of magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) interacting with an external magnetic field. Thereafter we describe the physiological pathways by which a substance can reach the brain from the bloodstream and then we focus on those MNP applications that aim at a nondestructive crossing of the BBB such as static magnetic fields to facilitate the passage of drugs and alternating magnetic fields to increment BBB permeability by magnetic heating. In conclusion, we briefly cite the most notable biomedical applications of MNPs and some relevant remarks about their safety and potential toxicity.