The delivery of some classes of drugs is challenging. Solubility, absorption, distribution, and duration of action
may all be altered by combination with vehicle molecules. It has already been discovered that polyethylene glycol – which
is used as a stabiliser in peptide drug formulations – has biological activity in its own right, including potential
neuroprotective properties. In this article we review the evidence for confounding activity for four distinct compounds that
have been used as solvents and/or carrier molecules for the delivery of lipophilic drugs under investigation for potential
neuroprotective properties. We discuss the evidence that cyclodextrins, ethanol, dimethyl sulphoxide, and a castor oil
derivative - Cremophor™ EL – have all been found to have mild to moderate neuroprotective effects. We argue that this
has probably reduced the statistical power and increased the Type II error rates of neuroprotection experiments that have
employed these vehicles, and suggest experimental design considerations to help correct the problem. However, we also
note that the properties of these compounds may represent an opportunity for drug development, particularly for the newer
compounds that have been subject to only limited experimental investigation.
Keywords: Carrier, Cyclodextrin, DMSO, Ethanol, Cremophor, Lipophilic, Neuroprotection, Vehicle.
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